Usually when “education” and “customer success” appear in the same sentence, it’s referring to the education of customers and ensuring that they’re up to speed on your products and services. Inviting them to webinars, sending them collateral and case studies, sending notes on your latest release are just a few ways CSMs typically help to educate customers. But building a customer success learning culture is more than that. It’s about learning from customers, and it begins at the top with the executive team.

Building a customer success learning culture implies that your company, no matter the department, places an importance on continually learning from customers and improving the way your company does business based on the two-way dialogue. What better way to learn this than from your customers – those that have already placed their trust with your company?

How can your company build customer success learning culture?

It starts with these 4 company focuses:

4 Focuses of a Customer Success Learning Culture

1. Customer Success Learning Begins at the Top

Like anything important that a company wants its employees to adopt, customer success learning must start at the top and be driven by the example of leaders across the company. Customer success learning is no different. It means that executives regularly spend time with customers, whether face-to-face with customers in their city, on the phone with customers and their respective CSM, while traveling to events or speaking engagements, or with CSMs or other customer success leaders at customer offices.

In a recent blog post, John Quelch, Harvard Business School Professors, says “Every corporate mission statement pays lip service to respecting customer needs, but actual customer expertise is typically a mile wide and an inch deep. That’s why every CEO should spend at least 10 percent of his or her time thinking about, talking to, and steering the organization to the customer.”

2. Customer Learning is a Two-Way Street Between Customers & Internal Leaders

We love this advice that Entrepreneur magazine gives in a recent article. One one of the best ways you can show your customers you care is by asking them for feedback, really listening to what they have to say, responding to their thoughts and suggestions, and adapting accordingly. Here’s how the article explains it:

Ask customers what’s on their minds regularly. That includes their satisfaction with their most recent sales or service experience and with your employees, as well as their general impressions of your business. Invite feedback at multiple contact points–via e-mail communications, online surveys, on your website, post sales interviews, contextual inquiries, and many other ways. Keeping a finger on your customers’ pulse is good for the heart–and bottom line–of your business.

Listen to what customers are saying about you in surveys, on Twitter or Yelp, or anywhere else they give feedback. Publish survey results and answers to customer questions in your e-mail newsletter. Create a sense of community around your business based on dialogue with your customers.

Respond to customers promptly when they contact your business, whether it’s a complaint or a compliment. Show them you’re listening and that you care. If there’s a problem, fix it so they can go away happy to return to your business.

Adapt your business based on customer feedback to better meet their needs. Communicate the changes you’re making based on what they’ve asked for (we’ll get into this a bit more later in the post).

3. Customer Success Learning is Meant to Be Shared

When valuable customer information is gathered, the worst thing that can happen is nothing at all. When the information is never shared, no growth can happen from it. A growing number of companies have developed effective customer learning programs that begin their customer feedback loops at the front line. The objective is to understand in detail what the customers value and what the entire company can do to deliver that value (whether the product, service, or something else entirely) better. Over time, companies compile the data into a baseline of the customer experience, which they draw upon to make process and refinements that are shared across the entire company.

Customer success learning feedback loops do more than just connect customers, the CSM, and a few decision makers in management. They keep the customer front and center across the entire organization by broadly sharing disseminating the information that matters.

4. Customer Success Learning Should Result in Action, Change or Improvement

If your company asks customers for their feedback but doesn’t act on the data or insights gathered, you are sending the message that it isn’t important – and that they have wasted their time. If that’s the case, they won’t waste any time taking their business elsewhere.

The Voice of the Customer is becoming increasingly important part of daily operations. And, customers appreciate someone asking for their thoughts, and taking the time to really hear what they are saying, but they don’t offer their opinion in vain. As Whitney Wood, managing partner at the Phelon Group said in an interview with Inc., “Every day, companies solicit feedback from customers, yet only a few translate that feedback into meaning. An even smaller fraction of companies actually take action or close the loop with the customer, to let them know their voice was heard.” Wood further explained that customer feedback has to result in change that customers can see, since change is the most powerful currency to reward vocal and consultative customers.

Just collecting the data and not doing anything with it is a waste of effort, time and resources – and can sew the seeds of customer dissatisfaction. It’s vitally important that customer success learning result in action, change, or improvement – whether big or small.

How Does Your Company Incorporate Customer Success Learning?

Does your company value customer learning? If so, what are some of the most valuable pieces of information you’ve gathered from your customers? Listening to customers is one thing, but adopting customer success learning as a culture is something entirely different, and unique. It starts at the top with executive support, and will cause your entire organization to embrace customer learnings as a result.

eBook: 5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers