From Personal Trainer To Customer Whisperer

In 2009 I got my start in personal training. This was an exercise in entrepreneurship that no certification or formal academic training could have prepared me for. There is a level of entrepreneurship required to achieve success as a personal trainer that is simply not required working an "average" job.

In an industry where there is no shortage of fitness gurus or products marketed towards people looking to succeed in their fitness goals, the one thing thing trainers could reliably hang their hat on is delivering results to their clients. You either helped a client achieve their goal or you didn't.

In many ways, you were not selling a client on a fitness package or number of sessions, you were selling them the belief that you could help them cross the finish line. Failing a client, or even the perception of you failing a client meant a reputational hit. As a trainer you are your brand.

Since my time as a trainer, I’ve worked in software companies small and large to help customers extract the maximum value they can out of the products or services on offer.

Many software as a service (SaaS) companies have roles such as customer support and customer success. Many of those companies tout their “customer-centric” ethos , even to the point of shouting it into the void. Yet, this ethos rarely extends beyond the generic motivational poster about "loving our customers". If you need an example of this - please see below:

We Love Customers Illustrations, Royalty-Free Vector Graphics & Clip ...

Two things are happening here:

  1. Company leaders prioritize company growth. By growth I mean things that are revenue generating. This is the dimension that they understand and operate in.
  2. Customer Support/Customer Success leaders are not demonstrating through valid data that their function preserves incoming revenue.

Without assigning any blame here, is it possible to make a sweeping statement (dangerous I know) about customers?

What if customer actions really demonstrated how your business is doing?

I know... I know... This is just too much. But let's think about this in simple terms.

Business want to make money.

Businesses only make money when people (customers) decide to give it to them.

Customers can decide to stop giving businesses money if the product or good isn't worth it to them.

If enough customers decide to not give the business any more money the business will most likely fail.

Simple enough, right?

Well yeah. It is that simple.

Despite this, the business functions that serve to "keep customers happy" are perennially viewed as "cost centers". If you're wondering what cost center means - it's corporate speak for "if we could get rid of this function and save that money we would."

This idea is just dumb. If your paycheck rides on customer focused stuff in tech, you understand it's dumb. The real answer is that the ENTIRE company is responsible for customers "happiness". How and why is that even case?

Glad you asked. This entire site is about answering that question.

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Jamie Larson