It is hard to believe that over five years have passed since I started on the customer success team at Narrative Science. I am drawn to the “Ship of Theseus” thought experiment, which ponders if something that has had all of its parts replaced can fundamentally be considered the same object. Over the years, so many elements of our team and the company have changed. New office. New products. New people. New leaders. New goals. And despite all of that change, the essential nature of the team and the intangible norms that define it have remained present.
Watching our company’s product suite change and evolve over time has been as exciting as it has been challenging. On customer success we are tasked with learning how to practically apply our products to create good experiences for our customers. That means varying use case applications, customer personas, industry focus, data formats, data connections, etc. Believe me, the list goes on — longer than I would like to admit some days.
There’s something daunting and thrilling about that realm of problem solving. It’s where the rubber meets the road for our entire business. It’s where the talk ends and all eyes turn towards making something finally happen. We are constantly challenged to stay on top of product developments and remain well-versed on how to wield our tools in effective ways for our customers. Sometimes that means contorting in ways not previously considered and building solutions out of tape and glue. Creating valuable outcomes for our customers is not a static or rigid thing. It forces us to stay alert and attuned to our customers’ needs. No two days have been the same in this regard.
In my early days at Narrative Science, it became clear that customer success meant doing what needed to be done to ensure a valuable experience for customers using our software. This may mean a different thing depending on the day of the week, but on a base level, it meant working with what you had in front of you to create a good outcome and “make it work”.
And after 5 years on this team, I can confidently say that creative problem solving is occurring every day on the Narrative Science customer success team. Whether it is working through an unorthodox application of a product for a new customer, organizing information for a quarterly business review, or collaborating with teammates during a marathon problem solving session when it feels like there is no path forward. This remains the team’s defining characteristic.
This is a team that carries – and protects – its unique sense of eccentricity and camaraderie. There’s a special bond formed between those that manage the highs and lows of deploying software with customers of all shapes and sizes, particularly at a small company. You either need to laugh or to cry in the face of big challenges — and this is a team that prefers to laugh while solving hard problems and making our products and processes better for our customers. Having a deep appreciation for irony and a dark sense of humor doesn’t hurt either. And yet, the team also carries a deep sense of optimism and grit. We always see ourselves as being in the best position to solve a problem.
All companies grow and change. Just because we do not have a motivational business poster on the wall somewhere with a sand dune or mountain range that says “change is the only constant” does not mean we do not appreciate that wisdom. Despite, or maybe because of all the change, I feel fortunate that the customer success ship has retained its sense of self and am confident it will continue to do so in the face of further change.