Magazine Article | June 1, 2018

Software Support Doesn't Equal Customer Success

By Abby Sorensen, Executive Editor

When we launched Software Executive in August 2017, my 77-year-old grandmother asked me how this could possibly be my job because, and I quote, “You don’t know anything about software.” OK, so I don’t know how to code, and I don’t help run a software business. My response to her was, “But I use software.” Plus, I reminded her I’m the grandchild most frequently called upon to troubleshoot her Netflix technical difficulties. Despite the “DO NOT UNPLUG” sticky note I put on her Amazon FireStick, she still unplugs it when cleaning behind her TV (who even cleans behind a TV?). Anyway, being a software user seemed to appease her. Grandma is now an avid Software Executive reader.

So, allow me to share with you — and Grandma — some learnings from using software. Specifically, from interacting with the customer support team for the recruiting software I use for my part-time college golf coaching gig. For more on this company, check out the August 2017 issue archive on our website: “3 Ways To Keep Your Customer Support Team (And Customers) Happy.”

Their interactions with customers adeptly bridge the divide between what most software companies consider customer service and what our editorial team defines as customer success. The level of service and support they provide is excellent. Every software company proclaims to be excellent at this. But that alone doesn’t ensure your customers are achieving successful outcomes as a result of using your software — that is customer success. Great customer service can lead to customer success, but it doesn’t guarantee customer outcomes. Here’s how this company’s customer service results in my success as a customer.

First, this company’s onshore, after-hours, and weekend support is something I love. More importantly, it’s something I need. As a part-time coach, all of my work is done during nonbusiness hours. If I had to wait full business days to get responses to my questions, I’d be so far behind. Lightning-fast after-hours responses help me maximize the limited time I have to work compared to many other coaches. I’ve gotten an email response from their support team at 9:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, allowing me to complete a database build. Success.

Second, they know it’s not necessary to rewrite their entire software to improve it. I recently gave feedback on a new release that involved minor updates like moving an important checkbox to the left-hand side of the home screen. As a user, I don’t have the patience to learn a completely different interface. Sometimes, less is more. Don’t give in to the temptation of trying to fix what isn’t broken just for the sake of a “refresh.” These latest updates help me access information faster. That means I can spend more time interacting with recruits and less time fidgeting with data entry. Success.

Finally, this company provides real, applicable value to their users. For example, I recently filled out a Q&A for their support team to include in an email newsletter. The questions included things like “If you could give one piece of advice to a young coach, what would it be?” and “How has technology changed coaching throughout your career?” The “tips and tricks” update emails can help ensure I’m getting the most value out of using this software. But it’s the insights that I find most valuable, especially since I don’t often get a chance to interact with peers. Success.

To Grandma’s point, I’m still not an expert software developer or software business owner. Most of our readers don’t have the luxury of being users of their own software either. So take a step back, put yourself in a customer’s shoes, and really ask if your customer service is actually leading to customer success.

Software Executive magazine