This is my first in what I hope to evolve into an annual letter written for the sole purpose of sharing the successes and lessons learned from a year's worth of work with my community. I hope you enjoy it and find it a valuable tool as you seek out your ambitions in the year ahead!
2023 was a recovery year for customer success after taking some knocks on the chin during the tech sector downturn in 2022. The resourcing corrections necessitated by the software industry's staffing overindulgance in 2021 cooled as company's continued to learn (albeit the hard way in many cases) that operating too lean in areas that maximize your customer's ROI potential hurts your bottom line. The quest for "getting it right" persists as the CFOs and CEOs continue to be wary of overinvestment in any area as they grapple with trying to come to a realistic look at their business without killing their internal mojo. But the bottom line remains the bottom line, and the maturity of the product and market fit still determines the true need for scaling a customer success organization. This reality opened doors for Customer Success by Design to focus its efforts in 2023 in helping companies not only find the right balance of CS investment and operational effectiveness, but plot their customer growth course for the next stage of their organization's growth.
What Was I Up To in 2023?
After 2+ years in the identity verification space transforming service organizations into scalable CS SaaS functions I transitioned back into SaaS leadership coaching, consulting, and execution services bringing my skills in customer success to two passion markets, healthcare and cleantech. I am proud to report that membership with Seattle’s CleanTech Alliance provided an avenue to a partnership with Sesame Solar where I'm focused on helping them expand their presence along the North American West Coast. In addition, I've had the pleasure of helping triValence build out its customer success strategy as they prepare to revolutionize procure and payment management for ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). Finally, in effort to continue to polish my skills I've tackled the PMP and PMP Agile, and updated my certifications in Hubspot and Pendo.
What’d I Learn in 2023 That May Be Helpful for You in 2024?
Slack channels may be an interesting way to get product feedback and monitor problem statements but I found it challenging as a method to foster and build relationships. I would encourage you to engage your network to see what channels "may" be worth your time and test a select few. Stay focused on your objectives and monitor your time spent there.
I continue to find the old adages of your network is your net worth, and that people never forget how you make them feel hold true as I know 2023 would not have been successful without my connections nor how I’ve always tried to hold myself to a high standard in how I engage with customers, collogues, and our shared community. I encourage you to continue to make every effort to stay engaged in a positive manner with any and all relationships you value in 2024.
Onboarding customers remains all the rave, and rightfully so. Companies really dialing in to how much lift it takes them and their customers to get them to initial value while creating exceptional CX remains highly challenging to most organizations but game changing to those who get it dialed in.
The cleantech/energy business environment is thriving and flush with opportunities. However…the adoption of these solutions will be long due to the research term and collaboration challenges in the market. This may feel like a sprint in both sectors right now, but it's really a very long marathon that will require the right balance of foresight, discipline, and risk to take it to the next level.
My Best of Lists…(why? because everyone LOVES them)
DISCLAIMER: I’m not the best at keeping up with things but these are my favorites that I discovered or finally had the time to get around to engaging with this past year.
Favorite Business'ish Book: Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard
I've always found it dicey to read a founder’s autobiography as I find them typically more filled with glorification than practical wisdom and lessons learned. However, I found this quite inspirational and motivational for anyone interested in trying to marry building a great business while being a champion of change for the greater good. Hippie dippie? Sure, but better than the slaughter/ all about me approach? Yes in my opinion.
Favorite Business'ish Movie: Light & Magic
Nerd alert…nerd alert…absolutely loved this docuseries of how a band of misfit animation, robotic, and film cooks joined forces to tackle, well, creating the visual wizardry and “force” behind George Lucas’s first defining Star Wars movie and how that evolved into a true game changing business over the course of 30 years. Bonus points for not shirking the difficult tales of those who weren’t invited along as the business scaled and the challenges of adaptation for those in it for the long haul….change is hard…(did someone move my cheese?) And yes, I wore my Vader helmet while watching the whole thing, and no, I’m not ashamed of that.
Favorite Business'ish Podcast: Empire by Goalhanger Podcasts
If you love and appreciate history as much as I do you'll find this deep dive into how a company emerged from Britain's expansionist period to become the ruler of country vastly larger than it's own only to muck it up and crumble in a few short years is mesmerizing. The East India Company's historical significance can't be overstated.
Favorite Event Schwag: The Allyship Challenge Diversity Discussion Cards & Self-Reflection Prompts for Children Age 3-12 from Harden Consulting Group, LLC and Allyship Publishing, LLC.
I really never snag anything from events at this point (OK, maybe the pen, pad, and water bottle) but my wife and I have sat down and used these prompt cards to have really meaningful conversations with our elementary and middle schooler about DEI topics. Bonus points for it not providing the answers, that’s the work we’re all supposed to do.
Veterans Opportunities and Networks
I was made aware of I encourage you to make those veterans and military spouses in yours aware of:
With gratitude and thanks to those in my community who made a special impact on me this year:
Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me. I hope 2023 was as eventful for you as it was for me, and that your goals for 2024 are visualized and realized.
If you ever want to learn more about my experiences and how I may be of service, please don't hesitate to reach out and (re)connect here.