The art of listening, delivery and creativity: Ed Ackerman on customer success management
In a nutshell
And that’s precisely what Qover’s first VP of Customer Success, Ed Ackerman, is looking to avoid.
A growth-focused expert across start-ups and established companies from Onfido to Deloitte and Google, Ed will spearhead Qover’s customer relations, making sure our partners' needs are being effectively heard and met.
‘Qover is all about delivery, and that really excites me,’ Ed says. ‘What I would like to see more and more of is that we show our customers – with our actions rather than our words – that we’re able to do even more for them on their journey and exceed their expectations.’
We chatted with Ed to learn more about the importance of listening, how you actually measure customer success and the undisputed top football club in London.
Welcome to the team! First thing’s first – why Qover?
I joined Qover primarily based on the strength of its people, but also the excitement and ambition of the company. I had an initial discussion with one of the co-founders a year before I joined and I got a good feel for what he and Qover were trying to achieve.
And it fits with what I like to do: using digital products to disrupt a given industry. I’ve been in the advertising and identity industries – insurance felt like the right next step.
You joined your previous company, Onfido, when it was in a similar stage of growth. How do you see the role of customer success in a B2B scale-up?
Customer success is a key function at any company, but specifically B2B scale-ups. Timing is everything. If you put a customer success function in too late, you can start to lose some of your earlier customers because they’re not getting the care and attention they need.
The goal is to find the essence of what customers need and where they see value from you.
Let’s get back to basics. How do you define customer success?
The key objective of customer success is to retain and then grow your customers. And you only retain customers if you can deliver experiences that exceed their expectations over time.
Not just once or twice, but many times over. So if you want to look at metrics, you’re trying to improve your net revenue retention or customer net promoter score.
How do you approach relationships with partners?
Approaching customer and partner relationships is not dissimilar to how you approach relationships with human beings. Fundamentally, you’re looking to build a level of trust and mutual respect. You need to prove that you’re able to deliver value before expecting much of a response – you’ve got to earn it, frankly.
As our first VP of Customer Success, what are your main priorities in the coming months?
My first priority is to meet Qover’s team to see how we’re already addressing our customers’ needs. But then, l want to spend as much time as I can meeting our clients to understand specifically why they chose Qover, what they’re looking to get in terms of a value proposition from us and how we can best cater to their needs.
Over time, I hope to scale the practice and be able to accommodate more and more needs from more and more customers, but ultimately in such a way that the customer isn't orienting towards Qover but we are orienting towards delivering value to the customer.
What are three skills you need to have working in customer success?
The first skill I would flag is listening to understand rather than just hear. What is the customer telling you about their needs? What are their unarticulated needs? So making sure we’re not jumping to solutions, but listening to understand.
Next is strong communication skills – not just listening, but being able to reflect. What did we say we were going to do? What did we actually achieve? Where are the issues, risks or dependencies and how can we overcome those?
That mutual dialogue is key to a well-functioning customer relationship.
And then lastly, I would say creativity. It’s not good enough to just roll out the same vanilla solution and say, ‘Well, this works for everyone else so it should work for you.’
If you’ve listened carefully and communicated effectively, you’ll understand that some client needs can’t be met with solutions as they come out of the box. That’s where creativity comes in, to try and mould towards the customer.
If you had to choose one thing that Qover excels in when it comes to customer success what would it be?
Qover is all about delivery, and that really excites me. Because you can listen and come up with creative solutions, but if you don’t execute effectively, those are just empty promises.
So what I would like to see more and more of is that we show the customer – with our actions rather than our words – that we’re able to do even more for them on their journey and exceed their expectations.
To wrap up on a more personal note: What’s your favourite way to spend the weekend?
My favourite weekend probably starts with being woken up by the kids bright and early and taking the dog for a walk as a family. I’m big into football, so I may go and watch a match. And I’d love to round out that weekend by catching up with friends at a restaurant or pub.
Since we’re interviewing our first native Englishman, we have to ask: favourite football club?
The football club that I’ve supported since I was a boy is Tottenham Hotspur. Certainly the pride and joy of my household and the undisputed top club in north London.