Subscribed Podcast Ep #13: Todd Eby on Success Hacking

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Guest: Todd Eby

Todd Eby is the co-founder of SuccessHacker, a boutique advisory firm focused on education, consulting and recruiting services for early stage companies seeking to build a solid Customer Success foundation to accelerate their growth. He’s also the creator of The Customer Success Journal and one the founders of OUTCOMES, a community of Customer Success professionals. Todd has spent over 20 years in the trenches working at successful companies like Zenefits, Five9, and Genesys.

We talk to Todd about the evolution of success hacking, Customer Success strategies, and lots more!

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What is success hacking? And how is it different from growth hacking?
Success hacking is really the logical offshoot in the application of growth hacking disciplines to customer success. The core ideas that made growth hacking such a success are the same things that are the key to creating a winning customer success strategy. You’ve got outside the box thinking and out of that come some truly unique solutions. I think the same things that apply to growth marketing can be leveraged in customer success.

At what stage should companies be thinking of Success Hacking?
Success hacking works at both ends of the spectrum.In terms of early companies, they get customers in, and acquisition is huge. It’s really hard to get your first customers. There should be an equal focus post-acquisition. I think that that’s one of the things that success hacking helps with. It’s also really resource-efficient. You’re going to bring on, maybe one to three customer success people early on. One of them should be really focused on building out your process and your programs. It shouldn’t be left to chance. That’s really where success hacking shines.

The interesting thing is even companies at the top end of the maturity model scale run into a lot of challenges. If you have somebody constantly looking at how you’re operating, how you’re engaging with customers and the outcomes, and analyzing and interpreting it, they can help you make optimal tweaks to your existing program. I think that you have to be really vested in being focused on operational excellence at the top end of the spectrum. You need to be really seeking to refine things to the point where it really sings. A lot of companies have something like a center of excellence. That’s really an expansion of the thinking, but this is more focused on having that one person that really is looking at what’s happening holistically. They’re close enough to it to truly understand it, but above it enough to not be sucked into the day-to-day.

You talk about “activation events” in the context of customer success. Can you tell us a little about the importance of onboarding, what “activation events” are, and why are they important?

Activation events differ from product to product. For me, they’re something that come in the moments of truth — the point at which customers experience their first true value, or you start to see that they’re on the path to it.

Let’s look at Facebook as an example. A key activation event for them, one that indicated that they were going to have a long-term user was when users began to invite their friends. Once they got passed the initial seven to ten folks in their social network, they were ultimately hooked. They were starting to get value and be connected deeper with their friends. They were using the platform.

You have to look for those moments within your own product. It differs by company but it’s really that first point at which the customer has that aha moment — “Oh, this is going to be so helpful.” When you understand what that customer fundamentally needs to achieve with your platform, look at the micro-experiences that lead up to that ultimate definition of success.

It’s one of the key things when you’re looking at your onboarding. You have to map out those moments. You have to look at it as a moment-by-moment map. Work through each of the key gates, understand what gets people there, and what happens. Then, you must be able to give your customers that tail-end that helps them to move through the flow to ultimately get to the point where they have that first really big aha moment — “This is better than sliced bread. Okay, we need to go all-in on this.”

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