Grant's AE Experience

My AE Experience: What I Learned About Success at AE

After a couple of absolutely lovely years with the Appreciation Engine team, I’ve made the difficult decision to move on in pursuit of a dream opportunity that landed in front of me. And while I reflect on my time working with such an incredible group of people, the most prominent theme that pops up is how much success we’ve seen over the last two years (which is fitting as my title was officially the Captain of Customer Success!).

When I started with AE, Customer Success didn’t have someone officially leading the charge so it was on us as a team to build what this department looked like both internally and for our enterprise customers. So with that in mind, I wanted to share a few thoughts on what made our Success so… well, successful!

You don’t understand your product until your customer understands your product

You might know your product front to back and you might have the greatest on-boarding documentation of all time, but until your customers truly understand the power of your product, you won’t really either. What I mean here is that they’re the ones who will ultimately find those really incredible and inventive ways to integrate your technology into their stack. That’s where you learn the true potential that your product can unlock.

I watched two different music giants use the same exact same service within two completely different custom systems, and I can say without hesitation that it blew me away to see the innovation every time a new campaign was launched. And that’s the beautiful thing about solid education – it goes both ways. You teach your customers, they teach you. It goes back to AE’s mission of building two way relationships.

Annabel, Grant and Jeff at a strategy session.

At a strategy session with Annabel (left) and Jeff (right).

Success can be a lot of things, so don’t force it (especially when building a department from the start)

This is one of the biggest things I had to learn. There are SO many articles and books and lists on the best ways to build for success, but what I learned is to take those as suggestions while looking at what makes sense for YOUR team and YOUR customers. Customer Success is not one size fits all. We started with the basics down and then built from there. We looked at how customers could reach us and if that was as effective and efficient as it could be. Check. Then we looked at our key success metrics that worked universally for our customers and redefined them to fit OUR goals as a company. Check.

We built this foundation first and then refined it. We started high level then drilled down. Like I said before, Success as a role is still relatively young so it encompasses a lot, which is what I loved about it. I got to wear a product development hat, a customer relationship management hat, and a marketing/sales hat on any given day. And it worked for our team because it’s what we decided we wanted it to be. Take suggestions and heed advice, but forge your own path forward. You’ll be a lot happier in the end, I promise.

Don’t just find your champions – become one

In success, you always look for the internal product champions with your customers. The people who fight for you, run your product up the ladder, make sure you’re getting the visibility and help you need, having your back. And that’s all well and fine, but one of the biggest things I learned about a role in Success is that you can’t just look for champions; you need to become one. To be honest, I don’t really even mean externally for your customers, because OF COURSE you’re already your own best cheerleader to them. I mean internally. Owning Success also means contributing to your company’s overall performance. It means taking charge, driving new initiatives and not being afraid of bringing new ideas to the table, building cool shit that will ultimately help your customers but also that YOU can be proud of when you look back. YOU helped do that thing.

Grant, Jenn and Annabel enjoying ice cream in Fan Tan Alley

Enjoying ice cream with Jenn (middle) and Annabel (right).

And it also means that you should aspire to be someone who is a champion for your colleagues. I truly and honestly believe that the relationships you build within your team are the biggest barometers for success, which is especially true when you leave. Did they feel like you had their back? Did you support their goals? Did you help them succeed? If any of those are a yes, then you did too.

There’s so much more I could say about Customer Success and how we made it work at AE, but I also know that our new Captain is going to steer the ship towards some pretty incredible horizons. So I’ll end with this. Thanks for making these last couple years such an absolute joy, whether you’re one of our customers, someone thinking about using AE, someone hoping to join AE, or one of my amazing teammates.

Excited to see what new successes await for the Appreciation Engine.

<a href="https://get.theappreciationengine.com/author/grantspychka/" target="_self">Grant Spychka</a>

Grant Spychka

As AE's Captain of Customer Success, I get to bridge the gap between product development and customer feedback/insights, working closely with our development, marketing, and sales teams. Outside of work, I'm either running after my kids, running on trails for fun, or running an embarrassingly low K/D ratio in pretty much any game.