How Leaders Drive Customer Success

Harita Gupta

Global Leader Enterprise Services

Today, B2B customer consumption patterns are changing, and these changes have gathered speed with the pandemic. In many cases, subscription-based services are now providing customers a better alternative over outright purchase of a product. Subscription relationships are proving to be convenient to consume, are economically beneficial, and are generally easier to exit.

This has meant a shift in priorities for brands, away from Customer Satisfaction and toward Customer Success. That’s because it is typically 5-to-25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer1. Moreover, for an average SaaS company, a 1% increase in retention increases their valuation by 12% over 5 years.2

From Satisfaction to Success

So how do you know where you are in your effort to deliver Customer Success? Indeed, if you are on the journey to regularly delivering customer success, at what stage in the maturity model do you find yourself? And what are some best practices of the leaders who also find themselves on that journey?

How Leaders drive Customer Success

Let’s look at both ends of the spectrum—from leaders to laggards—across a variety of points of focus on the Customer Success journey to better understand the best practices and the pitfalls along the way.

Establish a Holistic Organizational Charter for Customer Success

Customer Success leaders have a holistic foundation firmly in place. This means the right organizational structure, the optimum investments, and the budgets, systems & tools, and policies & practices necessary to make customers successful.

Laggards, on the other hand, have missing links in their execution and often fail to follow through when implementing policies and practices. This means not having the right organization structure, budgets, or tools. Also, challenges that come with rapid growth--such as scaling and retention—may impact consistency of practices and therefore negatively impact results.

A Clear Understanding of the Customer’s Journey Across Segments

Leaders have their customer’s journey well mapped out across all the customer segments they serve.  Each department (sales, professional services, support, engineering, marketing, finance etc.) in their organization is aware and responsive to the roles they play in the customer journey, with all departments collaborating towards a common definition of what it means for the customer to be successful.

How Leaders drive Customer Success

Their understanding of the customers journey is not uniform across departments. Each department often operates with their own definition of their role in the journey to success—without attempting to align their points of view. This causes disjointed experiences for customers.

Align Department Goals and Metrics for Customer Success

They have their goals and metrics aligned towards customer success.  This is not only true for the customer success organization, but also for each department involved directly or peripherally with the customer journey. For example, the process through which the engineering team prioritizes a bug fix, or a feature enhancement, could mean the difference in customer retention or churn. Therefore, engineering departments have goals that takes these factors into consideration.

They don’t have a robust mechanism where departments are both individually, as well as collectively responsible for customer success. It’s not uncommon to find only the customer success organization responsible and accountable for customer retention.

Health Scoring That’s Focused on Customer Outcome

While defining the health of their customers, leaders utilize metrics that focus on outcomes that the customers have achieved. They prioritize metrics like time-to-value that measures how quickly their customers gain value from their purchase. In addition to metrics like NPS, CSAT, product adoption etc., leaders also measure their customer engagement levels through participation in business reviews, relationships across the customer organization; and identified customer champion(s) to improve product adoption.

They focus on metrics that mainly measure their success only, such as CSAT, product usage etc. They fail to capture, or factor-in, customer outcome metrics like time to value, or measuring their customer engagement levels

How to become a Customer Success Leader

Wherever your company falls in the maturity continuum, the key to delivering sustainable success is to focus on the customer’s experience of using the product rather than simply the product itself.  The role of the Customer Success Manager is critical to this shift in perspective. Customer Success Managers (CSMs) act as the bridge between the customer and the organization. To be successful, CSMs must evolve from being firefighters (revenue retainers) to trusted advisors (expansion advocates). Brands can then identify opportunities to provide relevant solutions and expand customer value by drawing on the Customer Success Manager’s intimate customer knowledge.

The right industry experts and the execution partners can help you formulate a robust customer success strategy and roadmap, helping you truly succeed by

  • Crafting the appropriate Customer Experience (CX) with journey mapping and human-centered design.
  • Applying analytics to understand how customers use a product or service and designing CX marketing campaigns to increase adoption.
  • Leveraging predictive analytics to identify and proactively engage at-risk customers.
  • Onboarding Customer Success Managers with proven track records.
  • Develop effective self-help content in various consumable formats (text, videos, webinars, etc.) to operate at scale.

Want to know more? We’d love to talk.