Continuing our Customer Success series, learn how our customer success managers are helping build a customer success community in Oslo from the ground up
In late April a virtual “cafe” brought together customer success professionals from around the Oslo area. While events like this are still quite rare in Oslo, this was the second cafe so far this year. Alex Farmer couldn’t be more stoked.
“Customer success is a relatively new role in B2B SaaS (business to business software as a service),” says Alex. “Companies are realizing that having a role working proactively to prevent escalations and ensure success is good for customers. And good for renewal rates."
This is an exciting time for customer success managers in Oslo. The local tech scene is taking off and the role is in high demand. Cognite is one of the companies leading that charge. “Other major European cities all have local CS (customer success) communities,” says Alex, “ so we’re holding these virtual cafes to really help build up the community in Oslo.”
When he’s not running events like the virtual cafe, Alex is the Vice President of Customer Success at Cognite, responsible for building the team of customer success directors to help new customers realize the value of Cognite’s products. “By the time our customers are able to execute their customer success plan, they’re better able to achieve their business goals, finding greater ROI and, ultimately, satisfaction” says Alex. “It’s a pretty great feeling to be able to be part of that process.”
Formalizing customer success at Cognite
“Cognite is a customer success company,” says Alex. It’s a fair statement: At one point in Cognite, virtually every team member except C-level leadership aligned with a customer to implement use cases which provide value. Now that the company has scaled to develop competencies like sales, services, and engineering, roles like customer success directors have become more formalized.
As VP of Customer Success, Alex leads a team of seasoned customer success directors who came from presales, project management, and digitalization teams. They help make sure Cognite’s customers are able to get the most out of its software. It’s no small task.
“I spend time at this really unique intersection of customers, product, and sales,” says Hunter Beck.
As one of Cognite’s customer success directors, Hunter works with clients like Aarbakke and Aker BioMarine. “Even though I technically have the same role with each, they are massively different organizations: different industries, different processes, different digital maturity,” Hunter shares. “It’s up to me to shift my approach and style to work with each of my clients.”
“We’re helping some of the world’s largest heavy-asset industrial companies transform, moving their operations from analog to digital,” says Alex. “And customer success is at the tip of the spear.” Customer success directors work alongside a project team to focus on value realization for the customer.
Not all customers immediately understand the role of customer success, and often customer success directors can be met with a healthy dose of skepticism. “It’s not yet commonplace in our sectors,” Alex says. “They often wonder if we’re trying to upsell them. We have to be laser-focused on making sure our customers achieve value--that they get what they pay for, in other words.”
Customer Success Director Ane Tefre Eide agrees. “I get to work alongside ambitious customers trying to change how they do business, and disrupt industries that are extremely resistant to change,” says Ane.
Alex finds these challenges energizing. “Because there’s no tried and tested playbook for customers success in our customer sectors, we have the opportunity to write one ourselves from scratch,” he says. “We’re able to unthink the classic customer success playbook and instead think about what customers truly need. How cool is that!”
An amazing opportunity to make an impact on industry transformation
Cognite is an ambitious company that aims high, and is in a unique position to really set the standard for customer success and experience in its industry. “It’s not often you associate love and loyalty with a B2B SaaS brand,” says Alex. “But time and again our customers do just that.”
“Every day I support our awesome managers and solution architects to deliver solutions and products that really are breathtaking,” says Customer Success Director Paulo Botura. “It’s also my role to make sure our customer’s voice is listened to by all levels of our organization. It really is a unique position to be in.”
“The most fulfilling thing about being a customer success director at Cognite is that it’s different every day,” says Alex. “One day we’ll be supporting an account executive with a prospect. Another day we’ll hold a strategy day with a customer. Or we might be working with a product team to share customer feedback on the latest release. Everything we do is centered around the success of our customers.”
And if you missed the latest virtual cafe? “Don’t worry,” says Alex. “Just reach out to me on LinkedIn and join next month! We’re passionate about customer success as a concept and role, and we’ll keep focusing on building up Norway’s first customer success community.”
Community is perhaps Alex’s favorite thing about customer success. “Oslo is a burgeoning SaaS hub,” he says. “Incubating great Customer Success talent serves us all. Let’s learn from each other locally to make an outsized impact globally.”
Cognite’s customer success team is growing fast. We need dedicated customer success directors with a passion for transforming heavy-asset industries to meet our ambitions for the future. Our ideal candidate will come with a combination of commercial, domain, and technical skills.
Does this sound like you? Apply today.