Breaking the Fourth Wall of Customer Success

My annual re-watch of Fleabag has me thinking a lot about the concept of breaking the fourth wall. So why does this series keep this concept so top of mind for me? In the show, the lead character, Fleabag, is continuously breaking the fourth wall by constantly making eye contact with the camera and talking directly to the viewer.

With the recent launch of Vitally’s new Collaborative Docs feature—focused on enabling collaboration with customers—I find myself thinking about the concept of the fourth wall once again. So let’s talk about why.

Defining the Fourth Wall

According to Oxford Languages, the fourth wall is the space separating a performer or performance from an audience. It’s the conceptual barrier between fictional work and its viewers or readers.

What the f*ck does any of this have to do with a Customer Success Platform for B2B SaaS? Bear with me. 

The Digital Divide

In traditional Customer Success, there is a digital divide between customers and companies. To clarify, the digital divide is not between the customer and the company’s product or service; instead, it’s the divide between the company’s (more specifically, the Customer Success team’s) ability to deliver against a customer’s desired outcomes, and the customers’ ability to champion those efforts. 

As Customer Success teams face increased pressure to deliver best-in-class experiences, they continue to make investments in new tools for measuring and monitoring business impact. With more data and information spread across more tools, the digital divide continues to widen, resulting in even greater opaqueness between customers and companies.

The Fourth Wall of Customer Success

The literal definition of the fourth wall is the conceptual barrier between any fictional work and its viewers. In the fourth wall of Customer Success, the digital divide is the conceptual barrier between the CSM and the customer. As a result of this separation—this wall—Customer Success teams and their customers are having difficulty scaling operations, executing on shared goals, and leveraging insights to grow each other’s business.

Breaking the Fourth Wall with Vitally Docs

To eliminate the digital divide between Customer Success teams and the customers they support—in other words, breaking the fourth wall of Customer Success—Vitally built Docs to allow cross-organizational collaboration based on the same customer data and insights found in a Customer Success Platform. There is no longer isolation of end users from the process of ensuring their success. Team members from both organizations can work together using Vitally while leveraging Vitally's data-driven features.

A collaborative effort might involve sharing: 

  • Details and guidance during onboarding, 
  • Sharing business metrics for quarterly business reviews (QBRs)
  • Guiding customers through new processes to ensure their success. 

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as Docs are as versatile and dynamic as the teams that use them.

It is also important to note that with Docs, Customer Success teams and their customers can:

  • Create a dedicated workspace for outlining processes, sharing insights, and more.
  • Create and manage Projects & Tasks for completion both internally and externally.
  • Embed widgets to create real-time visual reports.
  • Share insights from integrated data sources (including Salesforce, HubSpot, Segment, Stripe, Mixpanel, and more).
  • Leave comments and feedback to allow continuous collaboration between teams.
  • Attach business-critical documents, files, videos, and other assets directly into a Doc.

Strengthening Company and Customer Relationships

Back to Fleabag. In the series, Fleabag (the main character) uses breaking the fourth wall as a device to create and maintain a relationship with viewers. By doing so, Fleabag helps foster more engagement and participation from the audience—and in our case, customers. 

Beyond enabling the achievement of joint goals, breaking the fourth wall of Customer Success with Vitally Docs (aka increasing transparency between Customer Success and Customers) will inevitably strengthen relationships between companies and their customers. And, as any Customer Success professional will tell you, the most successful (and profitable) customer partnerships are a direct result of a strong relationship with their CSM and the product. 

The fundamental difference between Customer Success and Customer Support as a business function is the long-term vs. short-term effort of managing customer relationships. Customer Success Managers increase the customer’s lifetime value by proactively working with them to understand their business goals and help them find success with the product. And like any good relationship, the more a customer trusts their CSM, the more likely they are to trust their recommendations and, ultimately, product/services. 

Building Trust Through Transparency

While transparency is just one aspect of the larger picture of ‘trust,’ it’s an important one, and becoming more transparent is an accessible first step on the journey to building trust with your customers. Vitally Docs makes transparency even more accessible for Customer Success teams and their customers.

So, take the first step. Request a demo of Vitally Docs, and then stream Fleabag season 1.

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