Mark Bissell: Why I Joined Jibe as the SVP of Customer Success
When I tell people I work in Customer Success, those not familiar with SaaS tend to think I’m talking about tech support. But after I passionately explain that Customer Success is about proactively seeking out innovative ways to deliver more value to clients rather than just addressing complaints, they pick it up pretty quickly (some of them even ask me for a job). As of April 2015, I started leading Customer Success for Jibe.
The transition from my previous role to this explosive New York-based growth-oriented company was twenty years in the making. Just a few years ago, I left SuccessFactors as the VP of Customer Value following its acquisition by SAP. Though, leading up to that point, I helped the company grow from a startup much smaller than Jibe to one of the leading cloud-based Human Capital Management (HCM) vendors in the industry.
How the Enterprise Software Market Has Evolved
That growth at SuccessFactors was largely attributed to our focus on customer value. And it should be noted that, because of the cloud, customer value is a relatively new thing to be focusing on in the software space in general—which makes SaaS all the more exciting to me.
In the early days of enterprise software, players such as SAP, Oracle, and other big ERP vendors sold exclusively on-premise solutions, so customers had significant up-front costs and were essentially locked into recurring maintenance for decades thereafter. As a consequence, the vendors had little incentive to go above and beyond for the customer.
The entrance of cloud options into the market shifted the risk away from software users toward software providers—the way it should be. In most SaaS pricing models vendors get paid on a rolling basis and don’t even recoup costs until after they’ve started to provide customer value. As SaaS is quickly becoming the standard, this has only raised the stakes for what providing value actually means.
So, how do you deliver value to your customers?
Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a different answer to that question but I believe it starts with understanding what customers hope to accomplish by hiring you in the first place. That becomes the foundation for why they stay with you and grow with you over time. From there, the delivery of value becomes an exercise of collaborating with the customer and continuously improving based on those interactions and their rising expectations.
I actually wrote more about this on my own blog last year—you can check it out here.
Accelerating the value that’s delivered becomes a matter of educating customers enough to use your product in an intelligent way—so much so that they get to a point that I like to call “Customer Self-Sufficiency.” From there on out, they’re empowered enough to start creating their own value, using vendors as a resource and fuel for their own growth. That’s the magic, and I can tell you, it doesn’t always come easy.
Unlocking the Value of SaaS
One of the metrics we tracked at SuccessFactors was the number of our clients who got promoted as a result of using our solution. If we were delivering business value, our buyer looked like a hero within their company. And when your buyers get promoted for choosing you as a vendor, churn rates will be low, and growth rates will be high.
This is the type of mentality I’ve brought with me to Jibe, which has already been successful without me. And I’m hoping to help elevate the company to the next level. In all honesty, though, it’s not just the opportunity to lead the Customer Success team that gets me excited about Jibe. It’s the pivotal role Jibe is playing in the talent acquisition industry with its SaaS solution.
The talent acquisition industry in general has been relatively slow to adopt emerging technology, and that creates a huge opportunity for Jibe to influence how that technology is used going into the future. One of the reasons I joined Jibe was because of how well our CEO Joe Essenfeld understands that solving the SaaS puzzle for talent acquisition isn’t just critical to Jibe’s success, but also the success of the industry as a whole.
Shaping the entire industry is a lot of pressure. But as I said, it all starts with unlocking the value of Jibe in the customer’s eyes.