The Secrets of Our (Customer) Success

How Centrical’s Customer Success unit builds ‘team,’ drives growth and wins big

Daphne Saragosti


When I began writing this post, my aim was to share the experiences and knowledge of the Centrical Customer Success team that I lead. And then COVID-19 hit, presenting challenges few of us could have imagined. While the main principles of our approach haven’t changed, the pandemic did reinforce a personal motto: “Always be relevant. Be flexible and agile to stay relevant for your customers.” Given what we’ve been through the last few months, I have added a few newly learned lessons.

Daphne Saragosti (center) leads a customer success planning session

Centrical’s brand promise is to help our customers ― like Microsoft, Novartis, Adobe and Unilever, among others ― make their employees the center of their business success. In our Customer Success Unit, we have made a twist on that, placing our customers at the center of our business success.

From my perspective, the greatest challenge the Customer Success team faces is overcoming the status quo. As a company offering an innovative solution, Centrical’s biggest competitor is the status quo. As a result, our main goal is not just to help and train our clients to use our product. We also aim to get them to recognize its inherent value, change their pre-existing thinking on “how things work” and, then, turn them into champions.

Centrical’s employee engagement and performance management platform enables companies to motivate employees to exceed their own KPIs. It accomplishes this by combining advanced gamification with personalized microlearning and real-time employee performance management. Using Centrical’s platform, companies have experienced significant improvements like +12% employee productivity, +20% average deal values, +30% faster onboarding and +12% customer satisfaction KPIs.

In most cases, not many members of our customer organizations have had much experience implementing and rolling out a platform like ours in scale. It’s tough to be a champion of something with which you haven’t had much experience. So to help our customers, we need to show them the path to success.

Gearing Up Your Team to Change Minds

How do we tackle this? The first step we took was to make a seemingly small organizational change by including a Customer Solution Team in the Customer Success Unit.

This team is responsible for designing and building our internal playbooks, our best practices and the assets we present to customers. This team also has a Customer Education and Training Manager to ensure that we can offer clients high quality, knowledge-based workshops.

Customer Success is responsible for getting our solution up and running the right way and on time. Even more importantly, we need to show value ―and fast. If we fail to do that, our counterparts on the customer side can lose faith and interest. Usage can drop, as can the likelihood of renewal. When we succeed, we create champions within customer organizations. Not only does this ensure that we get more opportunities to create value, renewals and expansions, but it also gets people ready, willing and able to celebrate and provide references about our joint success.

Every activity and function that creates repeatable success recipes and playbooks on how to communicate this success better equips us to achieve our goal of creating value quickly.

The following are essential for meeting that goal:

  • Have a well-defined onboarding process for customers, including detailed playbooks for your Customer Success managers.
  • Make sure to set expectations with your new customer at the very outset of your relationship.
  • Take the time to get to know your potential champion. Strive to understand things from the client’s perspective, especially how the organization “thinks,” and the business needs you’re fulfilling. Doing this will help in demonstrating your value at a later stage.
  • When working with large enterprises in times of crisis, it is easier for us to be agile and to change than for them. This is the time to show your customer that you’re a true partner and that you can take on more than the usual challenges.

By shifting our team’s focus from purely educating clients on how to use our product to help them define, understand, and witness success, I’m proud to say that today we have reduced churn by over 30%.

“Land and Expand”

Almost every engagement we have with a customer starts with one project. Once we have accomplished our first proven success, the next goal is to expand our relationship to encompass more projects. This entails a joint effort between Centrical’s Customer Success team and its Sales team.

In the course of dealing with several of the world’s largest companies, we’ve learned the importance of setting expectations with the customer as early as possible in our collaboration. The simple mechanism of setting milestones during the early stages of a relationship with a customer can work wonders.

Setting milestones allows us, from the beginning, to establish key junctures where it makes sense to reintroduce our sales account executives. It also helps us show progress throughout the project. This process creates opportunities for the account executive to identify expansion opportunities and to enjoy face-to-face time with the customer well before the time comes to discuss renewal.

While our customer success model is quite high-touch, our pathway to expansion follows a well-defined governance model which includes the following elements:

  • A sequence of meetings with the customer;
  • A sequence of meetings that the customer holds internally, focusing on how to optimize and improve the usage of the platform;
  • A quarterly review that provides updates on the customer’s priorities and facilitates discussions that will foster expansion;
  • A policy of encouraging features’ adoption and devising a customer roadmap together with the champion that details planned and new activities to occur in the next quarter. (This is usually part of the quarterly business review meetings);
  • A package of best practice for customers. This helps them implement and improve the usage of the main modules. Make sure to include technical and business aspects.

Expansion is now a significant growth driver for our company. Our “Land and Expand” approach at Centrical has been responsible for our first seven-figure deal and most of our six-figure ones.

Teamwork and More Teamwork

Centrical customer success teamwork in action

Looking back on the progress and achievements we’ve made, it’s clear that they would not have been possible without a stellar team. I already mentioned how our Customer Success team collaborates with Sales. But we also work closely with our colleagues in Marketing, Product, Solutions and Finance and Administration. This cross-departmental teamwork also flows between our offices in Israel and New York. We’ve come to realize that the more we work as a team, on any number or type of challenges, the more we win. It’s one reason we have cross-functional brainstorming sessions every week.

To optimize teamwork, I recommend the following:

  • Hold weekly team meetings for customer success managers to share knowledge, case studies, successes, failures and challenges. During the “work from home” period over the last few months, we have held a daily morning huddle to make sure the team is connected and aligned on priorities, and that each individual gets any needed support.
  • Hold an internal meeting before each launch to review the solution that the customer has chosen to implement, making certain that it’s right and ready for success.
  • Conduct internal brainstorming sessions and workshops to reinforce knowledge and best practices throughout the team. Encourage individuals to lead cross-functional projects that will be beneficial for all.
  • Have Sales and Customer Success meet on a weekly basis to discuss the different expansions being worked on. To optimize these sessions, have a clear process and a fixed agenda.

Lastly, a guiding value at Centrical, and specifically in our Customer Success team, is to always examine what we need to do to improve ― for our customers and for each other. But, of course, first and foremost, for our customers.



Daphne Saragosti
Writer for

Daphne is CentricGlobal Vice President, Customer Success. She has over 15 years of experience in Customer Relations and Retention.