What is Customer Success?
Customer Success is the combination of functions and activities of Marketing, Sales, Professional Services, Training, and Support, working in concert to develop and maintain strong customer relationships and help a customer achieve their business aims.
Customer Success is an enterprise mindset that embeds a Customer’s Value Criteria into all aspects of your organization. By placing the customer’s goals and requirements into product design, relationship management, and all the touchpoint interactions, you are helping your customer be successful in their business. The value that a Customer Success perspective brings to your organization is a deeper relationship or partnership, more satisfied & engaged customer, and growth for both your customer and your organization.
Put another way, “You are successful if your customers are successful.”
Customer Success Organizational Practices
Customer Success is the set of organizational practices that ensure a customer meets its goals through:
- Deep understanding of the product and how it supports the Customer’s strategy
- Anticipation of needs
- Proactive engagement
- Domain expertise
- Continuous collection of feedback
- Analysis of performance and risks across all touchpoints
- Ongoing relationship management.
What Customer Success is Not
- Single person heroics to solve at-risk Customer issues
- Customer Support teams that handle day to day activity
- A salesperson stopping by for lunch
- Account Managers delivering quarterly results
- A marketing message about new product features.
Critical Characteristics of Customer Success
- Organization recognition that Customer Success is a strategic imperative
- A view of the Customer Journey from acquisition through renewal, including all the touchpoints in between.
- Systematic collection of data across touchpoints to detect risk, identify problems, and enable course correction across all aspects of the Customer’s interactions
- Routine collection of feedback across touchpoints
- Clear articulation of customer tiers, support levels, communication practices, and performance/ROI monitoring. All with documented processes
- Program ownership – named Customer Success Leadership to provide data governance, analytic oversight, and programmatic approaches to Customer Success
- Clear accountability and ownership of the Relationship and Touchpoint activities across the Customer Journey.
How to Measure Customer Success
Customer success is mission critical as, statistically, successful customers spend more money over time, and are more likely to consider additional products and services. Successful customers also serve as enthusiastic brand advocates who reduce the Cost to Acquire (CAC) new customers.
Select metrics for evaluating the success of customers success management efforts can include:
9 Ways to Get Started with Customer Success
- Build the plan and playbook to define your organization’s perspective on Customer Success (see sample plan)
- Define what the Customer’s end goals are
- Describe the Customer Journey across touchpoints
- Understand the crucial steps within the Customer Journey that impact the Customer’s end goals
- Define the structure and level of support that the organization will provide to the various customer tiers
- Put tools in place to collect and analyze data, including customer feedback
- Assess the risks, priorities, and actions required to improve satisfaction, loyalty, retention, and growth
- Develop a roadmap to take-action including resources, owners, and accountability matrices
- Recognize that this is not a project or one-time effort, rather an approach that drives sustainable success for your Customer and your organization.
Customer Success Services
An effective Customer Success strategy requires supporting your Customer at every step in their journey to getting the result they need, beginning before the sale, and sticking with them until they achieve their desired outcome. The ultimate objective of customer success is to increase sustainable, proven profitability for both the Customers and your Company. This is a difficult shift for organizations focused on building new products, lacking expert resources.
You need experts to guide you through the journey mapping, data collection, analysis, and organizational change management protocols to move from a functional view of product, sales, account management, operations, and support to a Customer Success orientation.