The best customers are the ones who don't need you but understand the value of keeping you around. They're the ones who want to push technology to the limits but need someone to support them, challenge them and run faster with them. As an industry we tend to build entire teams around solving for growth, rather than building real value. We assume better doc, better PR, better "customer success" teams will solve the value problem, when all they do is solve for growth. Growth and value are two totally different things. I can buy a bigger house, but if I have to work three jobs to maintain it, do I get any new value from it? My wife may say yes- I say, not really (luckily she's not reading this).
The term "customer success" SHOULD NOT BE A THING, NOT WHEN I CAN LEARN ABOUT MACHINE LEARNING AND QUANTUM COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY ON YOUTUBE ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER SMART 15 YEAR OLDS. With this kind of team, you're targeting the wrong kind of customer and investing in their worst weaknesses. Instead you should be assuming they are smart, challenging them every day and using that metric to drive the others towards the competition. Is that fat government contract really worth it if you have to hire 20 full timers just to mitigate the politics? If you're already massively profitable and have those kinds of people, maybe. If you're not already making millions (billions?), probably not.
To me, the best customers are not the ones who pay and don't ask questions, nor are they the ones who pay but ask all the questions. They're the ones who pay and ask you SMART questions, help fix your doc and actively send pull requests. They're the ones who actively engage, contribute and challenge you as much as you challenge them. They help you solve your own problems, hint where their future needs are likely to be and identify their willingness to pay for them.
Where's the Take-Away?
I've logged a lot of hours on TastyTrade over the past 6 years (4000+ hours?). The average TastyTrader spends about 2-3 hours per day consuming their content. Many so called "investors" assume to "be in the know" you're either logging hours of CNBC or Bloomberg or worse, CNN. This may be true for passive investors who only make 2-3 trades per day or week, but for the rest of us who make ~4500 trades per year [let's say ~15 per day?], we do things a bit differently.
TastyTrade has rendered traditional "business" news unwatchable for me for two main reasons; there are ZERO tradable takeaways, and they don't actually trade. They talk like they trade; but do you see them making trades while on camera? They certainly talk a lot; but I've never heard them suggest "hey, I just sold some Apple" mid-show. All day, all talk, no trade.. and i'm supposed to take their advice when making 'investment decisions?'
Whether you identify as an active trader or not, that's not what i'm trying to drive here. TastyTrade pushes two main points, you learn by number of occurrences and you should have a solid, tradable takeaway for every 15 minutes of content. Those takeaways, should be driven by solid statistical research and not gut feel. The punchline- while their brokerage makes money from you actively trading, they give all their content away FOR FREE. This formula has turned me into a customer for life, because they challenge me to be a BETTER trader, not a passive consumer.
You either believe in and test the math for yourself or you mooch the content for free and use someone else. However, having made over 15,000 trades in the past few years, I can tell you the math is spot on. I now consider myself a smart and engaged customer, who understand the value and rarely needs their help. In fact, the only time I engage them is because of a platform bug, or when I spot a future need. I (we?) challenge them as much as they challenge us and the value for value proposition is obvious for both of us, no sales or customer success teams required. The owners of both TastyTrade and TastyWorks participate in the customer engagement process at a massive scale unseen anywhere else on the Internet.
How many security blogs do you read that have real, actionable takeaways at the end? Not just in the form of some intelligence indicators, but the thought process behind the tools you used to solve that problem? How many are written by senior level engineers who are deeply engaged at the platform level? How many end with; "like our shinny content? give us all your personal info so we can sell you something that's not intuitive for enough for you to understand on your own!". Like i've said before, i'm an intelligent human, Where's your Paypal button?
You're smartest, highest level engineers should be actively engaging with the front lines. They should be writing in-depth, technical blogs every week, month, quarter. They should be observing what posts are gaining traction and what posts aren't. They should intuitively understand where they're customer's pain points are and adapting the technology to fix them.
They should also be going out of their way to challenge your customers and help them be better. They should be teaching your customers how to do what they do, so they can jump ahead to the harder problems. Every piece of content should have a take-away, either an FAQ, lesson learned or a tool. Something that acts like a cheap piece of marketing, articulating where the market is headed and what the value is.
Target and challenge your savvy customers and build your business model around that. Don't be afraid to fire the others… immediately, if not sooner. You'll for sure sacrifice short term growth, but for a pretty positive life experience.