“Augment me – I’m a customer success manager.”

A while back I was working on a project that required me to look after a large portfolio of customers that needed quick turn around and action. I didn’t want to jeopardise their unique experience for my lack of availability. I proposed automating part of the experience with the customers through the use of a bot. I enumerated the repeatable actions that a bot could transmit on my behalf based on various cues; this would then augment and scale my ability to offer high-value engagement to a large portfolio of customers to drive success and evangelism. Such a bot would not be an easy out-of-the-box-solution – granted, but doable and with huge scaling potential across the customer journey – a win, win, win with budget and an eye to the future.

When I presented the idea to leadership, I received a good nudge of push back. “More human touch always wins,” one person said. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” another person said. I was surprised by the response, but then realized priorities were elsewhere, timing was off, and they’d eventually come around.

“More human touch always wins.”

Does it? I believe quality wins over quantity. Growing up, my father and I lived an ocean and continent away from each other. Yet, I was closer to him than many of my friends who lived with their fathers. Quality always wins. With AI support, customer success managers can focus on their strengths building strong, high-value relationships – embodying the brand they’re representing. Augmenting their human and strategic value, while automation handles repetitive, soul-numbing tasks (I’ve done it, I know). AI surfaces positive or negative behaviour performance alerts, which present strategic touch-point opportunities for the customer success manager to focus on her or his strengths to consult, cross sell, up sell, make cross-functional connections, surface PR and case studies, etc. There are already a number of tools to help surface actionable data (Gainsight,Totango, ClientSuccess, UserIQ, etc.), but I have yet to see technology that augments the high-value touch by taking on the repetitive tasks via robotics – perhaps in that, there is an opportunity. Quality human touch always wins.

“If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Nothing was broken, but it could be better. Albert Einstein said “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” Did we really need Airbnb, Uber, Deliveroo? Not really, but it’s made things way better, faster – we’re happier for it. That’s the spirit. Enterprise customer success management should be done better. Traditional metrics around adoption, engagement, renewal are short sighted. Better is enabling customer success managers to focus on driving evangelism all the time by allowing them to focus on their natural strengths with the support of automation and AI. Do you really want to take that up with Albert Einstein? On my end I look forward to learning more about AI and customer engagement technologies.


Sophie Gonin is lover of family & disruptive tech. Leading enterprise SaaS startups to shape customer success disciplines. CEO AlumeConsulting.com, Ex @facebook, @ebay. On her spare time Sophie enjoys taking pics of her very instagramable son.