Client Success: Let Me Make You Successful

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“Jess, I’m not sure what client success does exactly but I like the idea of having someone manage my success”.

This was an email response I received from a client in my first few weeks at Supercede.

At first I laughed (cry laughter face emoji), then I swiftly went into my thinking face (thinking face emoji) and soon realised I had a bigger job on my “virtual” hands.

Not only had I been parachuted in to build a Client Success function FGU (From the Ground Up) at a technology company, I was also reminded that I was still in the world of (re)insurance.

Most of us will all admit our industry has been lagging in the technological advancement arena for some time, meaning that funky new titles like mine are an entirely new concept for some.

What Is Client Success?

So let’s dive into it; who and what is client success.

As humans we love association and familiarity, so the likelihood is when you have seen someone with the title client success manager, director, VP, etc., you may have tried to associate that title to a client or customer role you are familiar with. Completely normal, I did it too. Cue back to the email I received, there was definitely more uncertainty of the “success” part of the title.

Client success is a discipline that emerged in the early 00’s by software companies who were finding that their solutions were not being adopted well by clients as they became more complex and those clients were at major risk of “churning” ( meaning they were about to cancel their contracts with the vendor).

Companies began investing in what McKinsey refer to as “Dive and Catch” teams to help clients realise more value out of their investment. The discipline has since been going strength to strength ever since but a lot is still unknown about it, especially in the (re)insurance industry.

So forget every job title and role with the word client / customer in it and we’re ready to get started on what is client success.

Firstly, here are some examples of what client success is not:

  1. Client Success is not account management in disguise
  2. Client Success is not customer support but with a fancier title
  3. Client Success is also most definitely not the customer service help desk!

And just to be super clear, we’re also not agony aunts and uncles, a common misconception too!

The exact responsibilities of client success will vary by company and industry but there are several commonalities of what we are as people:

  1. We’re proactive thinkers and do-ers
  2. We’re strategists
  3. We’re your partners-in-crime (Probably shouldn’t say it like this given our clients are all heavily regulated entities!) - Your partners-in-opportunity!
  4. We’re your voice when you are not at the table
  5. We’re your ROI (Return on Investment) realisation
  6. We’re your executioners (Probably can’t use this one either, but we ensure the successful execution of strategic goals so I’m sticking with it!)

This last point really sums up the core objective that every client success professional has in common; we help clients achieve successful outcomes with the solutions they have bought.

And finally, if your partner and children have just bought another dog for the family home without consulting you, I will listen intently and sympathise but unfortunately I cannot magically undo what has been done, the dog is there to stay! Our client success superpowers do have some limits.

Since joining Supercede, I’ve been growing my network within the global client success community and to quote a keynote speaker at a client success conference I attended in London, “We’re not an industry and we’re not a department, we’re the new life force in companies who want to win!”

Everything client success does for a client is completely intentional by design. We focus on bringing a whole company on a journey together and break down any internal barriers and silos. Which company am I referring to? Well you guessed it, both the company they work for and the client companies they work with.

Companies who want to win invest in client success, and companies who invest in solutions with client success functions will win too.

Back in 2015 venture capitalist Jason Lemkin said “Client success is where 90% of the revenue is”, and he’s yet to be proven wrong.

Creating Partnerships Creates Value: 2+2=5, Right?

2+2=5 is a quick way to describe the power of working together.

Synergy is “the combined power of a group of things when they are working together that is greater than the total power achieved by each working separately” in other words 2+2=5.

Partnerships and relationships are the backbone of the (re)insurance industry, it is why after over ten years and 3 countries later it’s the industry I find myself still working in and serving for. I made the move into (re)insurtech enterprise SaaS software solutions back in 2019 and have never looked back.

The great thing we can always agree on is that we’re in a people industry. I can attest to this as the partnerships I have today from being a broker in Australia back in 2011 are still in place today.

We also love to be super social and charitable and my work since 2014 with the Next Generation Insurance Network gave me wider industry connections and, more importantly, friends for life.

At some point during the work week, I’ll interact with every employee at Supercede because my role as Head of Client Success is to be everywhere on behalf of all our clients.

I ensure that the whole team is always focused on the end game and focused on winning, but not winning for Supercede, winning for our clients. If we win for them we all win, simple maths! (see the title).

How Can I Make You Successful?

I ask this question all the time to so many stakeholders across the clients I interact with.

Helping clients realise value is an incredible feeling and is in the essence of what client success is about at its core.

In an industry where people are so used to being told to “put up with” the clunky systems and inefficient processes, many inevitably accept their fate as just the way we do things around here. They become conditioned, deflated and even unengaged, making the job of someone like me that more challenging.

If you haven't yet met me in person, I probably come across as overly enthusiastic on Zoom when I ask you ”How I can make you successful, [Insert name of client here]?!”.

Side note, I am always happy to do F2F (face to face) meetings, anywhere in the world, herein lies the beauty of 100% remote working so you can see I’m purely driven by the need to make you successful.

Success is a marathon and not a sprint and so it can be celebrated and measured in many ways across a client’s lifecycle.

Client success are the gatekeepers of the client lifecycle and so are the masters of onboarding, product adoption (training), and relationship management (renewals and expansion) activities. On top of those activities we also create lasting partnerships through advocacy, nothing works better than good old fashioned word of mouth as the way to solidify your solution, even in a global marketplace like (re)insurance.

To guide the client through this lifecycle we first of all create the client success plan or client success criteria.

This is the plan we make together where we ensure we make you successful: we set goals and decide how we will track against them and along the way include pit stops for reflection and time to celebrate key milestones (the QBR or the renewal).

We keep on running towards the same goal in our partnership and this is how we are all in it together, using my marathon analogy, think of us running together but in a three legged race, our legs are glued together so in order to be first we need to be in sync as one.

Putting the client in the driving seat to own their success is a fun, new and exciting thing to do in an industry where too long those who “do”, do not get a say.

Everyday I am helping clients stay aligned to their strategic goals so they can be superstars in their respective roles.

I Love to Deliver “Wow” Moments

How amazing is it when you see someone’s face light up with amazement and awe and they shout or whisper “wow”.

I had myself when attending Coldplay in London. The gents put on such an immersive show, they brought me on a 2 hour journey. I was mesmerised by the experience from start to finish. I shouted “wow” many times.

Think of the last time you said “wow” about an experience you had, I can bet it was NOT when you used legacy (re)insurance software - that’s for sure.

In my final year at university I wrote my dissertation on, believe it not, the client experience (CX). I eloquently called it “Winning the zero moment of truth, an examination of the client experience and the client journey”.

I worked part time in Primark in customer service at the time and found the concept of giving good service and outcomes really fascinating.

You could argue that a person paying 2 quid for a t-shirt does not need to have a good experience but I thought the opposite was true. I would always see how I could enhance the experience of each client, whether that was asking how their day was, folding things properly in their bag, serving with a smile or wishing them a great day.

I wanted to know more about how this process worked on a bigger scale in the big, bad business world, and in particular how it all took place in the B2B (Business to Business) world on a larger scale.

So in my dissertation I really focused on how “wows” get created in the experience and the journey.

We have Proctor and Gamble to thank as they originally coined the phrase the “First Moment of Truth (FMOT)” back in 2005.

FMOT in P&G’s example refers to the moment where we are in a retail shop and we are compelled to make a purchase of a delicious [insert the name of your favourite chocolate bar] within a very short 3-5 second period.

In the wake of the digital revolution came the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), instead of walking into a shop and having your first experience there, it was now happening digitally on your phone or laptop.

As I go through the lifecycle with a client I’m reminded to create little and big moments of ‘wow’ throughout the experience, whether that be at my level of enthusiasm on day one of a “Go Live” onboarding session (maybe a different kind of wow), to their first product training session where we instantly demonstrate immediate value to how we can transform your whole working day with our solution.

Time To Value (TTV) is a great metric I use to measure to get to that ‘wow’. The core to this metric is “value” which can be hard to quantify but not impossible.

Something We’re Doing Different: The Dreaded QBR (Quarterly Business Review) Meeting

What is a QBR you ask? Traditionally, it would be a really boring meeting, once a quarter, where I tell you how amazing our product is, tell you how you’re not using your product(s) enough, then asking you for more money even though we’ve delivered none of your promised roadmap items. Rinse and repeat.

Prahalad and Ramaswamy introduced the term ‘co-creation’ into the client experience world, as value adding done by both the company and the client and not just an activity that happened in silo in the company alone. They found that clients desired freedom to transact how they wanted, not how a company dictated to them and in a way that reflected how they perceived value.

So knowing that the research had already been done way back when I had written my dissertation, I was set on ensuring that repeatable bad habits from the traditional school of thought were not part of client success in Supercede.

At a success leaders session on QBRs I was asked “what does a QBR mean to me?” In one word, I replied,”hell”.

In My World These Types of Meetings Are Only Known as ‘Quality Business Reviews’.

How would you like to get your strategic updates from me? I’ll propose a structure to you of course but otherwise I don’t know what your outlook calendar looks like, it could be spaghetti junction which is often what many calendars do in fact now look like (Thank you, Covid).

Do you want:

  1. Formal structured meetings with agenda and powerpoint slides - Sure!
  2. Pre recorded video that you can watch in your own time - Awesome!
  3. Less formal meeting down the pub cause you need a glass of something after a long week - I’m getting the round in as we speak!
  4. To set your own cadence with a mix of all of the above? - Music to my ears!

That’s how this works plain and simple. It’s pretty clever, right? And yet so many companies have not cottoned on to it!

Letting clients drive how they get their strategic updates from their partners is what all good client-led and client-centric companies should be doing.

I’ll never make clients be at a meeting, instead I strive to make the meeting interesting, valuable and impactful enough for the client to be excited to be at.

Closing Remarks

Client success is about ongoing engagement throughout the lifecycle of a client, so the job for client success is never done, it just evolves over the lifecycle to form an amazing partnership.

Tell me how I can make you, your team and your business successful.

I am here to serve the industry I know and love so well (there’s a song here!), but more importantly I am here to foster lifelong partnerships.

I’m in this industry for the long haul, to be part of the amazing transformational age we are headed towards and play my small part into the broader success of the whole.

We recently started doing NPS (Net Promoter Score) surveys and so I’ll leave you with some feedback we received as to what we could improve on, “I think you need to get Jess on The Reinsurance Podcast”.


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Jerad Leigh
Ben Rose
Jess McCausland
Tom Spier
Livvie Sandells