Customer Success — one of the greatest revenue engines ever
haydar.al-saad
14 Dec

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ariel Benzakein. Ariel has over 25 years of experience leading high performing teams at software companies, currently in SaaS, but going back to the on-premise software days. Ariel began his career in software sales, but spent the bulk of his career leading Implementation and Professional Services teams. Ariel is currently the Vice President of Customer Success & Account Management at Flosum, which is a SaaS software startup in the DevSecOps space. Ariel lives in Lancaster, PA with his wife and children.

Thank you so much for joining us!

Can you tell us about your journey in Customer Success?

I got into Customer Success in a roundabout way. I was initially leading the Professional Services and Technical Support teams at a B2B software business unit of Experian. One of the things that happened shortly after I started is that the business moved to a “One Sales” model, which combined the Hunter and Farmer sales roles into one, effectively eliminating the Account Management team. You can probably imagine what happened as a result of this — the obvious thing is that our Gross Revenue Retention took a nosedive almost immediately. However, the other thing that happened was even more interesting. All of a sudden, I had Project Managers on my team coming to me saying that they didn’t have enough time to complete their work. I thought to myself — “how is this possible? Did I really do such a bad job at capacity planning?” I investigated, and I found that they were spending up to 40% of their time on what is essentially Customer Success work. I realized that we needed a Customer Success function; however, I was not an expert in CS at the time, so I started talking to a lot of CS leaders, read a lot of books, and attended conferences to learn more. I ended up putting together a proposal to create a CS team; we started with just our Enterprise clients (about 200 of our 2,000 customers). The team was extremely successful in driving our GRR numbers up significantly in a very short period of time.

What is it that excites you about Customer Success?

At the end of the day, Customer Success is one of the greatest revenue protection and revenue growth engines ever thought up. By something as seemingly simple as ensuring that customers achieve their desired outcomes and value from a tool, we can not only protect our existing revenue, but we can drive the creation of net new revenue, quarter after quarter. It’s really rewarding and exciting to be a part of something that has such a large impact on a business.

What are some of the biggest challenges you see CS teams and CSMs face? And any advice on how to tackle them?

One of the biggest challenges I see is that CS teams often end up being Tier 2 Technical Support rather than Customer Success. Meetings devolve into support ticket reviews, feature request reviews, or even worse — become the dreaded “check-in” meeting with no business purpose. A very simple way of changing the conversations with your clients into something more strategic is to create Success Plans. These should be created jointly with the client and become an agreed upon set of goals and outcomes. Then, you should have an Executive Business Review with the client (frequency will vary based on the client) where you track back to those goals. This is a great time to show value to your client’s executives!

What major trends do you expect to see in Customer Success in the coming years?

One of the biggest ones that I see is moving towards becoming a revenue driver inside of a business, as I discussed before. Some companies worry about CS teams losing their “trusted advisor” status with clients if they get involved with revenue generation; however, if a customer just needs a few more licenses, isn’t it easier for them to acquire it via their trusted CSM instead of going through a sales process? And, for adding new products, the CSM doesn’t have to be the one selling, but they can be a great force for identifying opportunities for a sales team (and should be comped for it). CS teams need to own some kind of number, or their value to a business will be murky.

If you had to share, “words of wisdom,” with a CS leader, what would they be?

The biggest thing is this — don’t get wrapped up in metrics like CSAT and NPS. While they can be valuable, they have been proven to be unrelated to churn. Customers churn because they’re not receiving value from your tool; you can always think anecdotally of “happy customers” that churn and “unhappy customers” that continue to renew year after year. It’s much more worthwhile to figure out why your successful customers are successful than to chase churn.

How can our readers follow you on social media or elsewhere?

The only social media that I use is LinkedIn — however, I love making new connections there, so feel free to send me a connection request!

This was very insightful. Thank you so much for joining us!

Check out our other blog posts

The New Way to CS

Listen here on: Apple Podcast Spotify Google Customer Success has evolved in recent years - from focusing on old-school, vanity metrics and being seen as a support or services function to focusing on value-creating, ROI-driven metrics and being seen as a revenue...

Go-To-Market Spotlight

The spotlight is on GTM leaders in 2024! Throughout the year, we'll be sharing insights and perspectives from conversations with our friends and thought leaders across a range of tech topics. Enjoy! Interview #3: We asked Cliff, “Do you have any thoughts, predictions,...

Setting Customer Success Goals for 2024: A Guide for Success

It’s another new and exciting year in the tech world, which means it’s time to set clear goals and expectations for the coming months! In this article, we'll dive into the significance of goal setting and offer some practical tips for creating goals that are both...

Future Customer Value Podcast Episode

Our CEO, Haydar Al-Saad, recently sat down with Sagar Shukla, CEO of Foresight, on his Future Customer Value podcast. In the episode, Haydar and Sagar dive into: -How you scale a post-sales organization  -Who "owns" the customer?  -Why RevSetter does CS Audits instead...

Salary and Compensation Models Guide: Mastering & Aligning Customer Success, Account Management  and Revenue Team Compensation Models

In today's highly competitive B2B SaaS landscape, achieving and sustaining rapid growth is the ultimate goal for any company. However, the path to scaling successfully involves more than just acquiring new customers; it's about retaining and expanding your existing...

The Essential Role of Customer Success in Driving Revenue for SaaS Companies

In today's competitive SaaS landscape, ensuring customer success has become paramount for companies looking to drive revenue and achieve sustainable growth. Customer Success professionals are uniquely positioned to play a vital role in maximizing customer value,...

Maximizing Customer Success & Revenue Potential: A Holistic Approach to the full Revenue Journey

In today's fiercely competitive SaaS and tech industry, driving revenue is a multifaceted endeavor that extends far beyond the realm of the sales team. Companies that embrace a comprehensive, customer-centric approach to revenue generation are thriving, and this...

Maximizing Growth: The Synergy of Customer Success and Account Management in B2B SaaS

In the ever-evolving landscape of B2B SaaS, the triumphant ascent of tech companies hinges on their ability to not just acquire customers but to retain them profitably. This demands a cohesive approach that aligns every facet of the organization towards...

Achieving Success as a CSM

Being a Customer Success Manager is a rewarding role, but can often be overwhelming if one doesn’t prepare and prioritize properly. After all, keeping a full portfolio of clients happy and successful while still actively pursuing growth opportunities requires a...

Executive Insights: Unveiling the Top Priority in Customer Success Today

Life in Customer Success is certainly never boring. With the business landscape in technology constantly evolving, Customer Success teams must be capable of adapting quickly and prioritizing the right strategies. Given the uncertainty of the last 6 months, our team at...

Webinar: Proving Customer Success as a Profit Center

Rewatch our webinar from April 20th 2023. The core reality of corporate life is simply: Power Follows Money. If you are not perceived as being necessarily connected to strategically significant profitability streams, in hard economic times, your job and your team may...

How Customer Success and Account Management Teams Can Grow Enterprise/Large Customer Accounts

In the highly competitive B2B tech SAAS market, winning large customers is a top priority for companies. However, once the deal is closed, the real work begins to keep these valuable customers happy and retain them for the long term. This is where customer success and...

I love Customer Success because People Matter! It’s not just business, it is absolutely personal.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jenelle Friday, VP of Customer Success at Forecastable. Hello! Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my story. I’m originally from the Seattle, WA area so yes I love cloudy rainy days, green surroundings all year...

Grow Your Business From Within with the Premier Customer Success Platform

Stop wasting time on expensive, low-conversion sales and business development tactics. Instead, maximize the value of the customers you already have with RevSetter. The Customer Success Platform Built for Revenue Retention A Suite of Customer Success Tools at Your...

Understanding the Rule of 40: How Net Revenue Retention (NRR) Drives Success in B2B Tech

The "Rule of 40" is a common benchmark used by many B2B tech companies to measure their success. The Rule of 40 is the sum of a company's growth rate and profit margin, and a result of 40 or higher is considered a good indicator of a healthy and sustainable business....

What Is CSM Software? A Comprehensive Guide to Customer Success Platforms

Customer success management software (commonly known as CSM software or Customer Success Platforms (CSP)) is an immensely powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. It helps companies focus on the satisfaction of their current customer portfolio to grow their business...

The Importance of Retention and Customer Success for SaaS companies

Net Revenue Retention (NRR) is a key metric for Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) companies as it measures the ability of a company to retain and grow its customer base over time. In the B2B (business-to-business) space, the importance of NRR cannot be overstated as it is...

Customer Intelligence is the key to unlocking revenue growth!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Poppen, Chief Business and Customer Officer at involve.ai recently. We discussed all things “Customer” and how to drive amazing customer experiences at scale while growing Net Revenue Retention! Mary Poppen is the Chief Business...

Customer Success goes beyond a function — it is a mindset

I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Hamilton, a gregarious woman who has dedicated the past 15+ years to the Hospitality Industry. Stephanie shared her own personal thoughts, opinions and ideas with us. From multiple positions at hotels to post-sales...

Customer Success — the art of putting value & people first

I had the pleasure of interviewing Nir Kalish, Director of Customer Success at StrongDM, CS coacher, and CS advisor. Nir has 15+ years of experience building QA, Solution Engineering, and Customer Success groups from the ground up in early-stage startups. He is a...

Value is all about the outcome, not just the journey.
(Although he loves customer journey’s too!)

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael Boyd, a long-time customer success leader who has just stepped into a new challenge as the VP of Customer Success at Vanta, the leading automated security and compliance platform that helps companies continually monitor...

Axonius’ James Levine sees an exciting future for the Customer Success space

I had the pleasure of interviewing James Levine who brings with him over 21 years of experience in the Customer Success space including a wealth of Business Intelligence, business strategy, analytics and SaaS expertise. James joined Axonius in February 2021 to form...

Building an Effective Customer Success Team

Customer success teams are crucial to organizations from SaaS companies to small businesses to global corporations. But what exactly does a customer success (CS) team do? What might your team structure look like? And what should you look for in candidates to build an...

How to Calculate and Improve Customer Lifetime Value

One of the most important metrics for SaaS companies is your customer lifetime value. Understanding this metric can help you strategize your business growth and nurture high-opportunity customers. Here’s everything you need to know about how to calculate CLV  and...

How to Calculate Customer Retention Rate: Exploring Customer, Gross, and Net Retention

How do you calculate customer retention rate? What’s the difference between gross and net retention rates? And most importantly, once you know your retention rate, how can you improve it? Get the answers to these questions and more in our blog. What Is Customer...

How to Improve B2B Retention With the Customer Journey Map

The customer journey map can provide insights into your audience, offering, and future as a company. But how can the customer journey map work for B2B audiences, especially in relation to a service or subscription instead of a product? Today we’re taking a look at a...

Why Investing In Customer Success Software Is Key to Business Growth

Growing a business sustainably is tough. New business is risky and lead generation tactics can waste significant resources only to fail to close. At RevSetter, we believe that the best customers are the ones you already have. Our customer success software helps you...

How to Identify the Best Upselling & Cross-Selling Opportunities for Your B2B Business

Existing customers are one of your most valuable assets when it comes to company growth and expansion. But how can you best grow the lifetime value of a customer? Upselling and cross-selling are two classic sales techniques that, when used correctly, can have a huge...

How to pick a Customer Success tool

As Customer Success continues to boom, there are more and more leaders out there in search of a great Customer Success or Customer Growth software that will help them become more structured and deliver better results. So, what should you do before you get your next CS...

Help! How do I hit my CS quota?

You are in SaaS. You are a CSM, Account Manager, or CS Account Executive and you are measured on churn. Gross Revenue Retention (also known as Gross churn/GRR) and/or Net Revenue Retention (also known as Net churn/NRR). You are trying to figure out how to consistently...

Ditch the old-school Customer Lifecycles

What is different between pre-sales (new business/new logos) and post-sales (customer success, account management etc)? Well, there are many things of course. But fundamentally one of the most important differences is that the (pre-) sales process is mostly linear in...

Maximize your CS portfolio today

Having the right strategy to get the most out of your portfolio will help you unlock your full potential. But as all Customer Success (CS) professionals know, getting the most out of your portfolio is not always easy. Getting the right data, structuring your portfolio...

The Next Transformation of Customer Success

The story of CS is still in its early stages, but is entering a pivotal point in time. A time that calls for innovative technologies and an approach that helps companies take that vital next step. At this moment, the truest measure of value is when a customer decides...

How to stay organized in Customer Success

Most CS leaders would agree that staying organized is key to being successful in CS, whether it is on a micro-level (rep) or macro-level (org). You need to be organized to succeed long-term. Mastering organization in a fast-moving and complex CS world can be tough. It...

Does your team know what truly creates value?

To all CS leaders & CS professionals out there. Go to a few of your CSMs/account managers individually and ask them (or yourself) a simple question: what is the single thing that creates the most value for our customers? Start with “what”, not “how” - because if...