Name: Arik Bendaud
Position: Director of Customer Success at IronSource
Place of residence: Tel Aviv
Arik has been working on the “retention” side of business for his entire career, and has been in his current position for almost two years. "My philosophy has always been to deliver results and satisfaction to my customers. I've always considered them as partners, and I enjoy working together with them for a common goal and combined success."
What would you say is the difference between "Customer Success" and "Customer Service"?
There is a huge difference between Customer Success and Customer Service – we’re talking about two fundamentally different ways of connecting with the customer.
For me, Customer Service is an outdated way of providing services to customers, one which is based on responding to their requests and being ‘on call’ for their needs. The difference with Customer Success lies in the engagement. The Customer Success Manager doesn't wait for an issue, but gets in touch with the customer immediately after they sign an agreement with the company, and they lead the partnership from day one.
Customer Success Managers are in charge of building the relationship and guiding the strategy, and they need to be completely engaged as a partner in the growth of the client’s business. Customer Success Managers should be pro-active, and act as a “consultant” or “industry expert” for their customers.
How technical does a Customer Success Professional need to be in your opinion?
Technical knowledge is definitely a critical part of the role of a Customer Success Manager, allowing you to leverage a full understanding of a customer’s needs when identifying and building the best solution for them.
This can be a deciding factor in the success of the partnership and business growth. Having said this, it’s important to note that having technical knowledge doesn't necessarily mean being able to code – it means being able to understand the big picture and discuss potential solutions with the relevant people internally.
What is the ideal place in an organization for the Customer Success function?
Given that good customer success management is the key to the success of any partnership, it has to be the focal point of the relationship with clients, and the point of origin for internal communication with different relevant teams in the company working on that account, helping them direct their efforts.
Being that they are in such close contact with customers, the Customer Success Manager will also have a unique understanding of where the market is heading, and can provide useful insight on how each product or solution should be tailored to each partner.
The ideal Customer Success Manager should therefore be able to leverage a wide range of skills. They should be a marketing person, someone with a strong understanding of the technical side, and above all, a great communicator.
What would you recommend to CEO's making their first steps in building a Customer Success Strategy?
My advice would be to ensure you have a Customer Success team (or at least one person focused on Customer Success) from launch. They will be a huge asset and fundamental part of helping an early-stage company continue to refine their product and quickly respond to evolving market needs.
The Customer Success representative is often the first point of contact a customer will have with the company, and no company will last long if they can’t deliver customer satisfaction. Making sure that element of your business is strong from the outset is an important part of ensuring you will grow a sustainable and successful business.