Key Learnings from CS100 Summit – Artificial Intelligence, Bonding, Velocity & More!


I had the opportunity to take part in one of the most inspiring, purposeful, and valuable gatherings this year. The CS100 Summit brought 100 leaders, innovators, and customer success executives together in Deer Valley, Utah for three days to discuss everything from proactive company strategies to turning your customer success organization into a profit center.

Making customers happy is no longer good enough. They are not only asking “what can you do for me now,” but also, “what can you do for me tomorrow?” This is where velocity comes in: Customer success today is about helping customers do the impossible which can result in taking your company to the next level faster than your competitors. After finding answers to the question “How?” throughout the summit, these six themes resonated with me during this outstanding conference.

1. Artificial Intelligence

If you aren’t looking at artificial intelligence or programmed learning, to track user experiences, employee productivity, and pitfalls in reaching online goals, you should. Mark Benioff, founder, and CEO of Salesforce may have put the spotlight on artificial intelligence on the eve of Oracle Open World but we were already talking about it at the summit. Whitney Hillyer of Collective[i}, shared her growth engine strategy which focuses on leveraging artificial intelligence for goal setting and monitoring of aggressive expansion opportunities. Success goals should  also include accelerating long-term growth and leading net negative churn.

2. Bonding

This word had many connotations at the summit. Tony Nadalin talked about the 3 R’s in customer success, and how relationships are one of the most R’s, while Whitney quoted Gartner’s staggering stat on how focusing on key relationships is critical to your company’s success, “80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.” Perhaps one of the most impressive presentations came at the end of the conference. Greg Daines  talked about driving customer success through bonding. He challenged the audience to go past conventional thinking through his experience in building successful companies. Here are his key insights you should consider where velocity applies to all the points:


3. Velocity

It goes without saying that onboarding a customer on your platform is not enough. Being able to go beyond showing value is what matters far before the expansion opportunities arise. Being able to give your customers experiences and products they can leverage past the present is what will keep them loyal for years to come. This is harder to do than it sounds which drives success leaders to constantly innovate, test, fail, and try again.

4. Listen More, Talk Less

Jason Holmes, of Marketo, talked about three keys to success and the one that spoke loudest was proactive listening while leading. I practiced this approach even amongst the leaders I met during our networking opportunities at the summit and found how meaningful it was to hear people’s stories in the customer success trenches. Right after my own presentation at the conference, I emailed three audience members and asked them for  honest feedback on what I should do better next time and received constructive feedback – thank you Irit, Ernie & Ramey! The theme of listening is important in customer success because, customer feedback – the good and bad – is what drives product and company excellence. In-platform surveys, NPS, and just randomly picking up the phone to ask customers about their experience with your product and team can go a long way in guiding you to the next level.

5. Proactive Customer Success Strategies Deliver Customer Fans and Results

I spoke about the three major components of proactive customer success strategies and they include:

  • Onboarding: While everyone talks about the first 30 or 90 days of onboarding, the first 24 hours are also key in delivering customer fans and results. How are you delighting your customers from day one?
  • Ongoing Success: Customer data can drive your organization’s long-lasting customer relationships but you need to proactively anticipate how your customers are going to gain value from your product and show them the way. Make every customer touchpoint matter.
  • Support: There are many great tools out there today that can help your team scale and proactively support your customers. Hiring more people isn’t the answer to proactive support but rather real-time guidance in your platform.


6. Impact: Last and most importantly, both the founder of Qualtrics, Ryan Smith and the President of InMoment™, Lonnie Mayne talked about how gratitude, inspiration, giving back (check out #FivefortheFight), and passion are some of the key foundations of any successful business. Lonnie’s stories brought me to tears and reminded us that our decisions as leaders impact people, planet, and profit in a way that can move the world in the right direction. Every person, regardless of title, has an opportunity to make a difference with #redshoeliving.

What’s  Next? Dave Blake, the founder of ClientSuccess, announced he plans to keep the #CS100Summit limited to a small group of leaders, so if you have budget to spend money and time on just one customer success growth opportunity in 2017, consider the CS100 Summit – especially if it is anything like what we experienced this year!


View from the hike a few of us took on the last day of the conference

Until next time –


Emilia is the VP of Customer Engagement at WalkMe, a real-time guidance platform. She is a PMI certified project manager, Scrum Master, blogger, and a frequent speaker at conferences. In the span of her career, Emilia has received awards for being a top client service manager and leader, including the 2015 Totango Customer Hero award and a 2016 Customer Service Stevies award. Emilia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia and a Trans-global Executive MBA from St. Mary's College of California. Emilia speaks fluent Italian and has lived and worked in Italy, Denmark, France, Canada, and the US.