Are You Driving Customer Success?
June 5, 2018 - Many companies claim to be “customer focused”, but translating that declaration into action is very difficult. Traditional silos for marketing, sales, operations, finance and human resources can impede any effort to build a customer-focused culture. But a truly customer-focused culture, backed by great systems, will drive customer success and if your customers are successful, you will be successful. Getting this right can drive huge revenue and margin growth. Customer success should be a strategic imperative.

"If your customers are successful, you will be successful"
To drive customer success, you need to engage with your customers seamlessly, whether at first inspiration, in front of a sales person, or when there are issues or complaints. The benefit of a great integrated system is that you can drive cross selling, adoption, utilization, and customer success. If your product or service helps your customers to achieve their objectives, they will be loyal and will buy more. If your service is clunky and siloed or customers have trouble working with your team, they will be dissatisfied and leave.

Part of the challenge is that many companies are upping the bar and customers, whether business or consumer, are getting used to high quality service.  Companies like Amazon are generally a pleasure to deal with. The website is easy to use. You are recognized quickly as a repeat customer. They remind you of what you purchased in the past and make suggestions for things you might like in the future. If you absolutely want a purchase to arrive on time, you use Amazon.

Apple makes it as easy as possible to do business with them by packing their stores with highly trained staff. The wait is never very long and salespeople are knowledgeable. Often they can solve walk-in technical issues on the spot. The folks at the Genius Bar can teach you to better use your MacBook, iPad or iPhone. Their systems are integrated and they are set up to drive customer success.

A focus on customer success requires a concerted commitment by management and a culture shift for many companies.  Marketing people who are paid to generate leads may not care about retention. Sales people who are paid to close on leads may not care about operational issues. Operations is often focused on reducing costs, reducing time spent with the customer, minimizing call times and closing tickets as soon as possible.

It requires a large investment in CRM and customer engagement systems.  Older systems are not typically set up to take account for the number of variables that need to be tracked. Functional departments may not be connected in any way. We have all experienced the frustration of typing in your account information, only to have the customer service agent ask for it all over again, and then pass you to another customer service agent who must ask for it all a third time.

It requires a heavy commitment to data collection and analysis.  You need to be able to track customer activity, utilization, and various measures of customer satisfaction. You need to be able to identify problem ‘hot spots’ and immediately allocate resources to reduce the friction. Once-a-year customer surveys don’t cut it. Good companies are finding ways to measure customer satisfaction weekly using transaction surveys and data analysis.      

Several new functional titles are emerging:
  • Chief Customer Officer
  • Integrated Customer Engagement Officer
  • Customer Success Officer

Work must be done on the organizational structure for these new leaders to be successful.  They need to report as high up as possible in the organization and with as much direct control over resources as possible, so they can drive change and be held accountable. It is also critical that the CIO/CTO be fully on board. Regardless of the title, the goal is to empower senior people who have enough authority and scope of responsibility to drive coordinated end-to-end integrated customer engagement.

As an example, one of our SaaS clients has 15 sales people and 150 service people who manage customers after the initial sale has been made.  Generally, this customer service team covers three major areas: 1) on-boarding, set up and technical issues, 2) up-selling and cross-selling; and 3) professional services and consulting to drive utilization. In a world where retention, repeat business and up-selling is critical, this integrated approach to customer service is very powerful.

The executive recruiting challenge is that these concepts are new and there are very few people with many years of experience. This means finding executives who have sufficient industry experience and the right personal characteristics, possibly from a different function.  Traditionally trained customer service leaders might be too rigid to envision new organizational structures. It might mean finding someone who has 60% of the required skills and allowing them to hire direct reports with supporting skills. They might be senior sales leaders or engineers who have moved into marketing or business leaders who have managed multiple technology projects. These 'bilingual' executives are incredibly valuable. They should also have proven ability to operate at relevant scale.

To build a customer focused organization, a cultural shift may be needed, the organizational structure may have to be realigned, new systems may be required, and the right people must to be recruited who can drive systematic change. These people may come from different functions or different industries. Our strategy is to help our clients clearly define the key attributes they are seeking and then cast a net wide to find exceptional, high impact executives with proven experience. Recruiting the right people might be critical to your company's success.
Greenwich Harbor Named One of Forbes
Best Executive Recruiters for 2018
April 9, 2018 - Who are the best executive recruiters? Forbes teamed up with market research company Statista to answer that very question by producing, for the second year, our annual ranking of America’s best recruiting firms. The list is divided into two categories: one for the top 250 executive search firms specialized in filling positions with salaries of at least $100,000 and another for the top 250 professional search firms focused on placing positions with salaries of less than $100,000. To determine the best recruiting firms, Statista surveyed 30,000 recruiters and 4,500 job candidates and human resources managers who had worked with recruitment agencies over the last three years. Respondents were asked to nominate up to 10 recruiting firms in the executive and professional search categories. Firms could not nominate themselves; last year’s findings were considered. More than 14,500 nominations were collected and firms with the most recommendations ranked highest.
Making A Career Pivot
February 12, 2018 - We often hear from senior executives thinking about making a career move. Frequently, executives are seeking to make a "pivot". In some cases, executives will say they are "open to anything" that suits their skills. But it is important to be much more strategic. What’s needed is a point of view. As you put your job search into gear, you have to think about the big trends and plan on putting yourself in the middle of fast-moving rivers of commerce. Going into a backwater and hoping a flood will come is a poor strategy.

We recommend limiting your pivot to no more than, say, 45 degrees. Plan to use 60 percent of your skills, knowledge and contacts in the next position. In addition, you must put yourself on the right side of technology trends. Develop an ideal position profile for where you'd like to work and compare it to any new opportunity. Here is a summary of our advice in the attached article on how to make a career pivot in the age of technology:
Hiring Digitally Savvy Leadership
The acquisition of Whole Foods Market by Amazon should be a clarion call to executives in industries that are just beginning to address the digital revolution. Attracting new leadership who can address digital transformation has become critical in almost every industry. Digital transformation will not slow down. It will not get less complicated. It will not get cheaper. What will separate winners from losers is the ability to adapt and take advantage of technology, rather than allowing others to take advantage of you. Hiring digitally savvy leadership may be the key to your future.
The Five Golden Rules for Career Advancement
This Wisdom Should be Carved in Stone Tablets.
If you want to advance your career you should print out this article, carry it with you for your next career discussion. In short, get close to customers, become an expert, manage and develop people, take on tough projects and develop your personal brand.
The Seven Deadly Interview Sins
As executive recruiters we are often coaches of senior executives heading for potentially huge new opportunities and we get to hear client feedback within hours. S ome of this advice may be very obvious (like being on time). However we have seen senior candidates fall down on each one of these.
Greenwich Harbor Partners Opens San Francisco Office
October 10, 2017 -- Greenwich Harbor Partners has opened an office in San Francisco at 995 Market Street to expand its ability serve our client base. Customers are increasingly demanding a seamless and intuitive end-to-end experience and building this requires a mix of traditional and digital skills. Companies are looking for a blend of experience that includes digital transformation to modernize general management, marketing, sales and customer service. In addition, San Francisco Bay Area companies are searching the nation-wide talent pool for seasoned executives with industry experience who are used to managing growth at scale.