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The Next Step for the Belfast Tech Scene – Customer Success

  • Written by Roger Flynn, Senior Director for Customer Success and Northern Ireland Site Lead at Imperva

    Over the last two decades, the Northern Irish tech sector has been an unbelievable success story. Thanks to our highly skilled workforce, Northern Irish firms and global technology brands alike are thriving here, affording Belfast an international reputation as a region of expertise and knowledge in tech development. 

    While the sector shows no signs of slowing down, the next step for the Northern Irish tech scene is to become a world-class centre of excellence for Customer Success, which means fostering the capabilities to be a global hub for the next generation of Customer Success teams to work with and add value for a far greater number of clients worldwide.

    Why Customer Success?

    Customer Success teams are already well-established in many companies, as the move towards subscription-based business models has made reducing customer churn and focusing on expansion and adoption a top priority for tech businesses.

    These teams often operate at the executive level to understand the overarching business drivers that compelled customers to invest in a given technology in the first place, the challenges and opportunities they face, and how to ensure that strategic goals are met. As such, it’s a complex discipline that requires a mix of technical know-how, business savvy, and excellent relationship-management skills.

    Understandably, due to scalability considerations, the majority of customer success teams are focused on the higher revenue enterprise clients where building deep, long-term relationships is economically worthwhile. However, this means the bulk of the customer base – especially those in the SME space – aren’t benefiting from the same strategic partnerships and engagement as their larger competitors, which can result in higher churn and missed expansion opportunities for a large portion of the customer base.

    The devil is in the data

    The solution to this conundrum is to expand the scope of Customer Success teams by adopting an approach which combines human and digital engagement methodologies. To be optimally effective, this approach should be driven by best practice processes and underpinned by product usage and customer data that enables Customer Success teams to tailor their engagement style to the needs, profile and journey stage of each customer. 


    For some customers this means an expert Customer Success Manager interacting on a daily or weekly basis, helping to guide their teams towards achieving desired business outcomes. For others, CSM engagement will be triggered by product usage or customer behaviour which indicate that the customer needs help. For others still, the process is technology driven, with data triggers or events resulting in digital engagement which can include automated best practice recommendations, targeted enablement material, product updates or tailored video playlists.

    Crucially, this approach is built on high quality data analysis. By reviewing aspects such as which tickets are being raised to support teams, how various products are being used, and the type of questions clients are asking, customer success teams can identify common threads and micro-target which clients would benefit from specific interventions. As a result, businesses can significantly reduce churn around the whole of their customer base without having to adopt a costly ‘high touch’ approach for each individual account.

    Developing talent

    With digital transformation projects picking up pace around the world, building a broad pool of customer success-focused talent will be crucial to Belfast expanding its status as a global tech hub, particularly as customer success teams draw from a highly diverse background, both technical and non-technical.

    Capitalising on this will require a more far-reaching understanding of customer success as a discipline, as well as the methodologies and core principles that drive it. For example, being able to tackle questions like ‘how should the success of a subscription-based model be measured for both the client and the vendor?’ and ‘what are the key indicators which can predict   customer churn?’ are essential to effective Customer Success management.

    Creating this talent pool requires customer success to be more integrated into both technical and business programmes and university curricula. By raising awareness of the value and importance of customer success work as a career, the Northern Irish tech scene can have more of an impact on key business targets, as well as entrenching itself as an essential hub for any business worldwide.

    Looking to the future

    Customer Success is going to be at the heart of how the tech scene evolves globally over the next few decades and Northern Ireland needs to be at the heart of it. By developing data-driven practices which are properly versed in the core principles and methodologies of Customer Success, Belfast tech companies can play a crucial role in how the discipline develops worldwide.

    To this end, businesses should look to implement internal training programmes and partner with universities to raise awareness of Customer Success as a career option to deliver the pipeline of talent that’s going to be required. 

    About the author

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