The world's first university degree in Customer Success

3 min read

Just a few years ago, Customer Success was still an emerging profession and barely mentioned at university. Many of us have ended up in the industry through a different career path, such as sales, marketing, or product. So, how did CS go from being unknown to being taught as one of the MBA courses at the University of San Francisco? And what’s the future of CS education?

In this episode, our host Anika Zubair chats with Vijay Mehrotra, Professor of Business Analytics and Information Systems at the University of San Francisco about what tomorrow's CS leaders are being taught at university.

Since 1992, Vijay has been active in the world of analytics, technology, management, and innovation. Prior to becoming a professor, he spent more than a decade working full-time in Silicon Valley as an analytics consultant, entrepreneur, and executive. Since 2010, his column “Analyze This!” has been published in every edition of Analytics magazine. In addition to his teaching and research, he regularly advises and invests in early-stage technology start-ups and consults with companies large and small on their use of data and models.

Today, Vijay serves as a professor of Business Analytics at the University of San Francisco, where he has recently developed an innovative module for his MBA students that is focused on Customer Success Managemento (the first such academic program in the world).

It all started five years ago. Vijay was a part of redesigning their MBA program and was working on a new “career accelerator”. Essentially, he was thinking about doing something with Data Analytics - but when talking to former students he learned that many of them worked in CS.

“The light bulbs went off. They taught me about the subscription model, how the world had changed and how CS was so critical to not just the success of their customers, but also the success of the companies they worked for. They encouraged me to build this module around customer success. So I did.”

The career accelerator course is divided into three parts. Starting with Customer Success Management, the students learn about the economics of SaaS businesses and the identification of the impact of renewals and growth on the success or failure of those businesses. Then they examine the customer journey by getting tasked with a specific customer and asked to build a success plan. Finally, they finish up the course with a case study where churn levels are above 30% and coming back with distinct recommendations on how it can be improved.

The role of education has fundamentally shifted as a consequence of the web, the search engine and the smartphone. Vijay and other professors are no longer in the business of doling out bits of information to you. Instead, they need to provide a context for what you’re learning, help you connect it to what you know, and then help you communicate it - which is exactly what CSMs do.

“In fact, I always say that as a professor in the 21st century, I'm a CSM. My new students coming in are my new logos, and their career launch are outcomes that drive retention for new enrollments.”

Listen now to the full conversation with Vijay and Anika to learn about what tomorrow's CS leaders are being taught at university.

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