Meeting Customers’ Evolving Needs with a Customer Experience Team

Ethan Beute, BombBomb, Chief Evangelist, The Customer Experience Podcast, Wall Street Journal bestseller, Human-Centered Communication, Rehumanize Your Business.

Ethan Beute

Former Chief Evangelist
Luke Owen, Formstack, Customer Success, Customer Experience

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Luke Owen, Formstack, Customer Success, Customer Experience

Listen to “32. Meeting Customers’ Evolving Needs with a Customer Experience Team w/ Luke Owen” on Spreaker.

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Trying to measure the success of your customers – and the teams and processes that help them succeed – can feel challenging. Today I have the pleasure of welcoming a guest who’s got “Customer Experience” in his title, who’s building out a CX team, and who’s measuring his customers’ and team’s success.

If you’ve been listening to The Customer Experience Podcast, you’ve heard people in a variety of roles talk about customer experience as it relates to their role, department, or industry. Our guest spends every day with CX at the forefront. Find out from an expert with a Customer Success background how he’s approaching great customer experience in a repeatable, scalable, and foundational way.

Luke Owen serves as Director of Customer Experience at Formstack, which started back in 2006 operating as a no-code application for websites to use forms. They continue to evolve their offerings to meet customers’ evolving needs and expanding tech stacks. Fun fact: they’ve even gone HIPPA compliant.

Earlier this year, Formstack acquired Bedrock Data – in part to to create a self-service data hub (i.e. sales, marketing, etc.) and to take form fill data and convert it into useful metrics. A Bedrock team member at the time, Luke then joined Formstack and took on CX in a formal way.

How does Luke think about customer experience? Check out this short clip …

I ask everyone that question and Luke’s answer is a unique one in that he personifies it. He states that CX is the “heart and soul of an organization that supersedes that relationship with a client.” The philosophy of always being aware of the customer’s experience and how strong or weak it is at any given time is his team’s focus. Taking a holistic view of an organization that has lots of moving parts means more than just the Customer Success team should take responsibility.

Check out the full conversation to hear Luke take on topics like:

  • How customer experience has developed as a new structure and language
  • Why the approach most companies take to customer success is flawed – and what they’re doing to change that
  • What he sees as the ultimate goal of great customer success
  • The metrics and measures of success (and why CMI is changing that game)
  • How Formstack is predicting customer desired outcomes

Keep reading and watching, because Luke gets hands-on and specific with team member roles, org structures, metrics and measures, desired outcomes, and more! Enjoy.

Customer Experience, Luke Owen, Formstack, alignment, customer success, personification, definition

Meeting Customers’ Evolving Needs with a Customer Experience Team

To listen to this new episode, previous episodes, and future episodes, just subscribe to The Customer Experience Podcast in your preferred podcast player:

We always embed the full conversation here in each podcast episode’s blog post. So, you can also listen to the insights and recommendations of Luke Owen right here…

Listen to “32. Meeting Customers’ Evolving Needs with a Customer Experience Team w/ Luke Owen” on Spreaker.

“Customer Experience” as a New Structure and Language

Many guests talk about customer experience as a cross-functional effort. And Luke is no different … except that CX is in his title and in his team’s name.

So what does that mean? Luke elaborates on why being Director of Customer Experience is about making sure that the Customer Success and Customer Support teams work in tandem to constantly maintain and improve how their customers are treated and to ultimately assure that they’re successfully finding value in their product.

Where do Professional Services and Operations fit in to round out the customer experience? He goes deeper into how each team operates in the clip below …

Luke discusses how he took charge in building a relationship with sales and his newly forming Customer Experience team in service of their customer (kin to the sales and marketing relationship required for successful Account-Based Marketing). This led to the creation of Customer Success Manager (CSM) roles that were able to operate and deliver for any client within Formstack’s family of acquired services.

When Luke began his Customer Success career with Hubspot in 2010, their budding CS team included people with the CSM title. And it went a little bit like this:

  • CSM: “I’m your Customer Success Manager.”
  • Customer: “What?”
  • CSM: “Your CSM.”
  • Customer: “Huh?”
  • CSM: “I’m your Account Manager. I’ll be managing your account.”
  • Customer: “Oh, OK. Cool!”

In the interest of making it clear to the customer, they rolled back the CSM title and went with “Account Manager.” By 2015, however, Hubspot saw the true value of a CSM as a guide through the customer’s lifecycle and transitioned back to that title.

Check out the clip below to hear about this fun back-and-forth on language …

Customer Success as a Philosophy, Not as a Function

Luke sees customer experience as a philosophy, not just a practice. And even though CX is organized within Customer Success, it’s not just a CS philophy or practice.

How customers receive and perceive the value of your product, service, or solution is everyone’s responsibility. And this is shown from initial contact through the sales proces, to onboarding and engagement, and throughout a customer’s entire lifecycle with your company.

In this video clip, Luke explains why an entire organization needs to adopt this philosophy …

In the end, working toward each customer’s success is far less about one person with a CS or CX title and much more about the organization as a whole. He feels that each employee’s role should focus ultimately on what the customer needs and wants from you – and how you make sure they receive it.

Luke Owen, Formstack, alignment, teamwork, team work, customer experience, customer success

Metrics and Measurements of Customer Success

Rather than value of revenue churn or rates of customer churn, Luke views net revenue retention a primary indicator of customer experience quality. Churn is a lagging metric that only provides a small portion of the big picture Formstack tries to evaluate.

Product usage is also a useful measure, but someone can use your product far more than average, but still churn out. Even a customer health score gives an incomplete picture.

Always looking for a better way, Luke came across Boaz Maor’s Customer Maturity Index (CMI) and experienced an an “aha” moment.

Learn what the CMI is and what it means to Luke in the following clip …

CMI creates another access point to understanding your customer that’s adjacent to the health score. Customers are placed within a quadrant based on their ability to gain value from your product, service, or solution. The two axes are customer health (high or low) and customer maturity (high or low).

For each of the four quadrants, a playbook can be made for people in each quadrant that helps Customer Success (and others!) guide people to success, retention, and expansion based on their specific health/maturity plot point.

Your Customers’ Evolving Needs

Luke discusses how Formstack takes this idea of the CMI one step further by incorporating desired outcomes. These can come in the form of tackling a feature request, support ticket, or even a bug. Tracking these can be difficult, but Luke explains below how his team makes use of them with CMI …

His team oversees their clients and identifies these desired outcomes and tracks them to create an activity feed. Some are going to have more importance to the likelihood of a customer being happy over a period of time. This adds another metric of quantifiable data that can be added to the CMI.

The ultimate goal, of course, is to continue presenting and achieving more desired outcomes with and for your customers in a never-ending loop of service and retention. Ideal? Sure. But a worthy goal.

Doubling Back on Team Alignment …

Because one of the goals of this podcast is to figure out how to work across people, teams, and departments to create and deliver better customer experiences, I often ask cross-functional questions. So, with a CS pro who’s taking on CX like Luke, I asked what he wished more salespeople knew or understood about customer success and customer support.

He believes that if people in different departments can understand they’re operating under one umbrella — as a unified force — the company can improve its customers’ experiences. He dives into that more in the last clip …

Luke leaves us with a lasting phrase: “Don’t lose hope.”

And I think we all can agree on the value of that statement. If our customers see how strongly we hold onto hope for bettering their experience, they’ll remain loyal throughout their relationship with us. Because we’re imperfect, we’re going to make some mistakes. Customer forgiveness is based in that loyalty.

This post is based on an interview with Luke Owen of Formstack.

To hear more episodes like this one – both future and past – please subscribe to The Customer Experience Podcast in Apple Podcasts.

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Not an Apple listener? We’ve got you covered in Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Other Episodes You’ll Like

Guests Coming Soon

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Ethan Beute

Former Chief Evangelist

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