While the role of customer success is not new, it has rapidly become mainstream as companies now recognize its contribution to business growth. According to Jason Lemkin, “Customer success is where 90% of the revenue is”. This has catapulted customer success from the status of churn buster to a double agent growth harvester: for customers and suppliers. To use the plant metaphor, there are key elements that ensure sustained growth: light, love and care, water, temperature, nutrients. Based on these, below are some essential seeds that best-in-class customer success groups have sown to ensure sustainable mutual growth.
“Light”: Enlightening Joint-Accountability
While “customer success management” is a functional role, customer success is a company-wide strategy where success is a two-sided coin: value for the customer and for the supplier. There is a co-dependent relationship where suppliers have created holistic customer journeys that engage customers throughout their lifecycle to collaborate towards shared success:
- Acknowledging that success or failure is inextricably linked.
- Defining mutual success goals: for customers and suppliers.
- Creating joint-accountability agreements to maximize shared success.
Like in all blooming relationships, it takes two to tango.
“Love and care”: Closing the Business Outcomes Divide!
Helping customers achieve business outcomes with products is not about the technology but more about the people that use it. The key is to build the capacity of the customer’s people to adopt technology in a way that creates value for them, e.g. increased productivity, increased revenues etc. Until that happens, there will always be customers that fail. Success is achieved via:
- Providing enablement programs that move people out of comfort zones.
- Focusing on the human side of software: adoption, change management and value.
- Providing expertise in the domain in which the product is used.
- Empowering customers to drive their own success.
“Water”: Soaking up Customer Intelligence
Customer intelligence is essential to empower customers to grow. Companies are collecting customer data insights from multiple sources (marketing, sales, product, customer success, support, technical content) combined with AI to proactively predict which customers have risks and opportunities. These insights are hydrating products, services and content to continually nurture customers for sustained growth. Indeed, data is to customer success what water is to flowers!
“Temperature”: Measuring Scaled Customer Experience
Related to the data is the permanent quest to measure the temperature of customer experience (CX). While customer success locks business outcomes, CX locks customer sentiment. According to Forrester, 72% of companies are improving CX as their top priority.
B2B companies are making efforts to replicate the CX “wow” experiences practiced in B2C by humanizing 1-many automation, e.g. via customer portals, communities and adding personal touches along the customer journey based on data insights. Enabling customers with the right level of knowledge at the right time is becoming recognised as key to providing the right level of experience.
“Nutrients”: Adjusting Customer Success and CX Nutrients
To conclude, stellar customer success is never set in stone. Agility is key in finding the balance in evolving CS/CX nutrients to nurture changing customer needs. This involves all functions of the company actively listening to their customers and creating iterations to test and adjust the delivery of products and services based on evolving insights.It is like nurturing and caring for plants that will grow and flourish forever in an ecosystem of healthy dependence. Indeed, the sown seeds of customer success have now grown into a thriving forest of mutualistic abundance. Like in nature, mutual success is all connected!