Building a customer success flywheel is about figuring out what works well for your best customers and scaling that to your entire customer base and prospects.
It’s important to understand internal and customer maturity in the sales process—not everyone will be ready for your solution even if it could help them.
Community is a tool and solution, not an end unto itself. Before thinking you should start a community, first identify a goal that a community might help with.
Ejieme Eromosele has worked in multiple industries before becoming VP of CS and Account Management at Quiq. She also founded Success in Black to empower Black people to build careers in customer success. In a CHATalyst interview, Ejieme shared more about the power of community building and how to create a customer growth flywheel.
Can you share more about your career path and current work?
In my day job, I’m the VP of Customer Success and Account Management at Quiq, a conversational AI and messaging platform for enterprises. And my passion project is Success in Black, a community to enable and empower Black professionals in customer success.
My career path has been non-linear, though. I started in management consulting and customer experience consulting before moving to the New York Times and building their customer experience team right as revenue was shifting from advertising to subscriptions.
Then I moved into CS more properly, working at an NYC-based startup before joining Quiq when it acquired my previous employer.
I founded Success in Black partly because of the unrealized passion I saw during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and 2021. I wanted to build a space where Black talent could learn about this kind of new profession—customer success—that had the opportunity to help them build generational wealth.
What does a customer flywheel look like?
I spoke about this at the ReUp Summit, but the flywheel in CS is all about taking advantage of what I think is our outsized opportunity.
In a SaaS model, your whole goal is to deliver continual value. So the goal of a flywheel is to leverage that value as it exists today to drive more customer references, referrals, and fine-tune marketing and sales motions.
But the flywheel itself is actually a couple of pieces put together:
The levers of value in your platform (and what customers get from it).
What you do differently compared to alternative solutions to the problem you solve for customers?
From there, your main question needs to be how do we scale what’s working to our entire existing user base? Then the follow-up is how do we scale the same to prospects?
How can you tell if a customer is mature enough for your solution?
This is interesting because people often assume you can get around maturity by selling to tech companies—that because they exist at the bleeding edge, they are always ready for novel solutions. But that’s not true.
In any case of selling new technology, you will come up against change management issues and you need to think about both internal (your organization) and customer maturity.
Internal maturity is around what infrastructure you have to deliver to customers. For instance, do you have the right onboarding process for a multinational enterprise? What about an easy DIY process for a low-price tier? Whatever you’re selling, you need to be able to deliver.
Then comes the maturity of your customers, which is a function of four things:
Strategy: does your champion have organization-level support for the new technology? Or are they just kicking tires?
Processes: what core processes do you have that match the customer’s processes? How will you scale those?
Metrics: are you all aligned on which metrics matter? If so, how are you measuring them, do you have a baseline or are you starting from scratch?
Technology: how does your technology integrate with others, in particular the tech stack used by the customer?
I call these maturity “competencies” and they really focus on whether you and your customer are at the right maturity levels, respectively, to work well together.
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What do you think about building customer communities to build customer maturity for your solution?
We’re in the early days of customer community building! We’re tackling this right now at Quiq, but I take inspiration from the lessons learned with Success in Black.
In particular, I see Success in Black as a platform rather than strictly a community. I say platform because it’s about four goals: community, resources, advocacy, and training. So community is a part of the overall goal but not the be-all, end-all.
That also changes how we approach building infrastructure, since there are many different ways for a community to exist within the context of our other goals.
These lessons are key for building any community because it gets to the core question of what you want the community to exist for—and then building to empower that, rather than starting with a goal to build “community” and figuring out goals later.
Communities can solve for many things. You need to know what you’re trying to solve internally and for your customers by building a community.
It can be an extension of support.
It can be to build and activate customer advocacy.
It can be a way to get customer feedback.
It can help your customers grow their professional network.
Or some other need that’s unique to your business. The key is to figure out what community can to to help you realize and extend the value of your product. I'd also add that community can show up in different mediums, whether they are places to gather (digital and physical) or shared activities (like volunteering).
Quiq's conversational AI proactively engages with customers based on who they are, where they are, and what they are trying to do—all before involving an agent.