Customer Success 2020
3 min read

Customer Success 2020 with Jeff Barnett

Jeff Barnett, the former COO of Demandware and CEO of Salesforce Commerce Cloud, was one of several featured guest speakers at one of our recent Customer Success virtual Core events. He shared a bold, customer-focused move the company made during his time at Demandware and Salesforce.

At eCommerce leader Demandware – despite excellent business results – Barnett and team decided to reorganize the company in a drastic customer-first direction to get the company functioning more efficiently on behalf of its customers.

This restructuring continued to evolve through the Salesforce acquisition in 2016 and beyond, as Barnett took the reins as CEO of the Salesforce commerce businesses. This move not only paid off for Demandware and the Commerce Cloud – it also revitalized the way SaaS companies look at customer success, pricing models, onboarding, customer journey mapping, and interdepartmental collaboration.

Before the virtual event on March 18, Barnett caught up with his former colleague and board member at Demandware, Underscore VC’s Co-Founder, Michael Skok. Their conversation, embedded above, serves as a step-by-step recap of how he and the Demandware team conceived and employed this new customer-first strategy and scaled it across one of the world’s largest software companies, Salesforce. And the YouTube live session embedded below is a deeper dive into how he went about it.

In the midst of Demandware’s meteoric growth phase, Barnett noticed that as departmental functions matured and business results were optimized, the customer experience began to suffer.

“Suddenly, out there in the field, we’re having customers struggle with different problems, and the organization wasn’t naturally responding to it as we had so fluidly in the early days,” he said. “Why? Because each department or silo was really optimizing itself.”

Barnett looks back on his realization of this discrepancy as an “aha moment” for the business. “What had been lost in all this maturation of our business, frankly, was the customer’s experience and the attainment of their own business objectives.”

“What we finally decided we needed to do was to reframe the business, and reorganize ourselves, through the lens of the customer.”

Not only was this mind frame shift the right move for customer delight, but it was also imperative to staying competitive.

“Let’s face it – customers have more choice than ever. In the current economy, switching costs are going down, down, down,” Barnett explained. “So, you’ve got to be winning that customer every day.”

''Let's face it – customers have more choice than ever. In the current economy, switching costs are going down, down, down. So, you've got to be winning that customer every day.'' - Jeff Barnett Click To Tweet

With this new approach – one that is now considered best practice in both startups and established organizations alike – Barnett saw his company’s team collaboration and retention metrics increase.

“We decided that we could model the entire customer journey as moving through four key phases, and that everything we did operationally was then framed within the context of one of those phases,” Barnett outlined.

“Each phase became very much interdepartmental,” he said. “Each department had shared or specific responsibilities within each phase…related [to] improving the metrics that measured the success and experience of the customer at each step of the journey. Given that our business model was aligned to growth in the customers’ online revenue, that improved customer success and ultimately paid big dividends for us as well.”

“The results showed. Our customer retention rates were fantastic, in excess of 98%+ on a units basis. And on a dollar basis, it was well over 100%, meaning effectively negative churn. Furthermore, because our customers were executing so well with their eCommerce business, on average they were growing significantly faster than the rest of the eCommerce market – generating more revenue for them and exceptional levels of satisfaction.”

Jeff dives more into this process and its results in the full interview, so be sure to tune into the full discussion and Jeff’s key takeaways.

Interested in hearing more Startup Secrets from Jeff Barnett? Watch the virtual Customer Success Core event that was held on March 18th below!


Slides from the presentation can be found below via Slideshare: