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Client Success: The Secret Ingredient To a Successful Project

8.13.20 By: Allie Petrina

If you’ve read my bio on our website, you know I love cooking. It allows me to be creative and try new foods. But what brings me the most joy is cooking family recipes. Those recipes give me a sense of nostalgia, they taste great, and I know who to call for help when I need it.

I wish I could cook those family recipes all the time. However, every once in a while, I resort to takeout when I need a quick bite to eat. It’s not as great as cooking a family recipe, but it gets the job done when I’m hungry.

I’m telling you all this because cooking a family recipe and ordering take out reminds me of the differences between working with clients in client success and client relations. Client success proactively works with a client — there is more communication and planning involved — and client relations works reactively — it’s an as-needed basis. As someone who worked in both, let me tell you the difference.


Why Client Relations Is Like Ordering Take Out

Before I joined Idealist Consulting, I was in the travel industry working in client relations. I talked with a lot of customers, much like I do in client success, but the dynamic was different. 

In client relations, I reacted to the needs and problems of a client only when they reached out to me. It's like ordering takeout — I'm reacting to my body telling me it needs food by buying something to satisfy it quickly. There isn't a long-term plan when ordering takeout or working with clients in client relations. The goal is to come up with the best solution right then and there.

My relationship with clients when I worked in client relations started when I got a call and ended when we found a solution to their problem. I wasn’t familiar with their needs or goals outside of what they told me. There was no opportunity for me to learn more about them because it was likely I wouldn’t talk to them again. The next time they called the company, they would presumably talk to another client relations representative.

It was short-term problem solving that was client-led because they held all the knowledge about their project. It was all business and no relationship building. Imagine if all I ever did was order take out. I would have never learned how to create the meals I cherish or develop the special relationship I have with cooking.


Why Client Success Is Like Cooking a Family Recipe

In client success, I also talk with a lot of clients, but interactions are quite different. Unlike in client relations, I can put in the time, effort, and care into the relationships I build with clients. It’s like when I cook my favorite family recipes: I put in the time, effort, and care to make sure the meal is the best it can be.

Client success is proactive when it comes to working with clients. I act more as a partner accompanying a client throughout their journey. I have the opportunity to learn about their goals and help facilitate conversations about their projects. I’m at their side from beginning to end. The method of how client success works with clients reminds me of how my mother would walk me through recipes. It was from start to finish. We began by buying ingredients together and finished by enjoying the meal together. There’s a sense of familiarity that exists for the duration of the project and beyond.

Clients also stick with one person throughout their journey. That allows me to help with timelines, internal communication, budgeting, and more. Because relationships and trust are fundamental to client success, I notice that clients feel safe in bringing up small problems and concerns to me, which results in preventing bigger problems. The less time spent on putting out fires means we spend more time planning what’s best for the future of your organization.

Another plus is that I feel like I’m part of the client’s team through my role in client success. It’s a great feeling because many of our clients are nonprofits doing amazing work. The level of engagement I have with clients is what leads to better problem solving and successful projects. They know they can reach out to me like a team member when they need help or have questions, and vice versa. It’s kind of like how I can call my mother when I need help recreating her delicious bolognese lasagna.


Why Client Success Is Important for Tech Projects

The role of client success is to make sure your job is as easy as possible during and after a project. That’s why building a great relationship from the jump is important. As your tech is optimized to meet your needs, client success will introduce new ideas and new ways for how you can better achieve your goals.

There’s a time and place for both client relations and client success, like how there’s a time and place for ordering takeout and cooking your favorite family recipe. Client relations is best in industries where quick, short-term solutions are sufficient. But when it comes to things like Salesforce, having someone who can help with planning, communication, and strategy is beneficial. A client success team that has your back will help your organization get the most out of your tech and ensure you achieve your goals and vision in the long run. 


Looking For a Team to Help With Your Next Tech Project?

Feel free to contact us to talk about your next Salesforce project. I might even end up as your client success representive!


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