The taboos of Customer Success


The function of Customer Success is still maturing, and most companies are currently evolving and growing their CS departments. That being said, there’s all these unanswered questions that people don’t really mention or avoid. For example, is it okay to charge for CS, who should own the customer feedback loop and should the CSM hold a revenue number?

In this episode, our host Anika Zubair chats with Wayne McCulloch, Global Head of CS (SaaS) at Google Cloud, about the taboos of Customer Success.

One of the world’s leading CS experts and a Top 100 CS Strategist, Wayne McCulloch works with Google Cloud’s entire SaaS portfolio as the CS Leader. He’s a keynote speaker and the recipient of multiple industry awards with more than twenty-five years of experience in customer-focused roles. Wayne began his software career at PeopleSoft and Vignette before becoming an SVP at Salesforce, the Chief Customer Officer at Kony, Inc., and the VP of the CS Group at Looker.

Now he’s sharing what he knows as a chief customer officer leading global success functions. In The Seven Pillars of Customer Success, Wayne provides an adaptable framework for building a strong CS organization. From customer journey actions to the development of transformation advisors, you’ll read detailed examples of how companies have put these seven pillars to the test.

For way too long, there are a number of topics in CS that are kind of taboo. And one of the most common questions people like to avoid is - are CSMs glorified sales? Are they supposed to be there to just upsell and cross sell and should they own the renewal number?

“I do not believe CSMs should sell, or should have a quota at all. That is not their function, not their core competency and it’s not their skillset. However, CSMs should be ´up-telling´ value all the time.”

Another common taboo question in CS is around the cost of goods. If you have an onboarding manager, a CSM, account manager, renewals, and so on.. It costs! So should you actually factor a CSM salary into the cost of goods sold or should it be separate? Basically, are you charging for CS or not?

“I believe ultimately customer success managers will be paid for service. It will be a paid for service because it should add tremendous value that customers want to pay for that service.”

Another hot topic in CS is around customer feedback, who should own it, should it be success or product or combination of both?

“So collecting the feedback and presenting it into a company I think is owned absolutely by the success function. The action of implementing and making it right is definitely engineering and product design. It’s also a way to showcase that you're listening to customers and you care about what they're seeing in a very visual and visible way.”

Listen now to the full conversation with Wayne and Anika about the taboos of Customer Success.

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