CEO? Sorry, you’ll need a Customer Success Engineer

Dear B2B CEO,

You've raised your seed round; clients are pouring in, and as revenue grows — retention slowly becomes an issue. In today’s hyper-competitive tech scene, great client acquisition just doesn't cut it any more. As you run towards your A and B rounds, you come across this new, terrifying metric that you have to measure and optimize: Churn rate. That awful, dreadful number signifying the number of users who tried your product and decided they can do better. That you can do better.

Churn rate is the wrong question

“How do I reduce the churn rate?” is a hard question to answer and it’s the wrong one to ask. The right one is: “How do I keep my customers happy”. It’s painfully obvious, isn’t it? happy customers stay. Unhappy customers leave. Recognizing who’s happy and who’s not, and on time, is that one thing that differentiates high churn rate from low one. And the biggest, ugliest problem you’ll face when trying to make that differentiation, is that like in sales — software can get you the leads; It can provide you with the info; But you’ll need stellar reps to turn that data into action. As always, It’s a combination of technology, analytics, and communications that will save you from the retention-volcano.

And there’s one obvious conclusion that pops up every time you make time for this problem:

YOU NEED TO HIRE ANOTHER ENGINEER. I know, I know. Recruiting Engineers is hard.

With growing competition from companies like Apple and Google, It comes as no surprise that some CEOs feel relieved as they turn to recruiting employees for what they recognize as non-technical positions, such as Community Managers, HR, Sales or Customer Success.

And that would be where they’re wrong, because there’s no way around it: If technology is a vital part of your core value proposition, you’ll need technological people to man the key positions. You’ll need Engineers.

Customer Success is called that because that’s what it’s about: the customer’s success. To your customer, ‘Success’ usually means that your product is working properly and providing the value proposition that has been originally promised upon purchase.

Now, if you've been in this business for a while, here’s something I'm sure you know by now: Nothing EVER works as planned. Even if you have the best, brightest and most diligent R&D group, sooner or later your clients would feel the gap between what they expect and what they actually get.

Add to that the sometimes complex work of Solutions Architecture in order to tailor the product to the client’s needs, the everyday problem solving, the expertise needed in order to observe between defects and misuse of the product and the collection and classification of feature requests, and you get a challenging position which requires — you guessed it — an Engineer.

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