In an era where customer experience is worth as much as, if not more than, the product delivered, quality service is a differentiating factor that distinguishes companies. Establishing a corporate culture in which all the company’s efforts are aligned toward the customer’s success is essential to achieving its goals, increasing the chances of customer loyalty and retention, and, consequently, becoming more profitable.
But Isn’t Customer Success Just a Passing Fad?
Everything indicates that Customer Success is here to stay.
In the not-too-distant past, the acquisition of technology was made with high initial investment and high risks, which tied the customer to the product not for the satisfaction gained from positive results but for not being able to justify switching vendors after facing such a high price. At that time, there was no Customer Success (CS) function, and customers were supported by account managers who only engaged with clients reactively rather than proactively, in turn creating a superficial relationship in which the client was responsible for their own success. Thus, the risk of investment losses for the customers and of churn for the company were high.
With changes in behavior and consumption and the constant search for efficiency in processes and return on investment (ROI) ever increasing, the account manager role needed to evolve into what we now know as the CSM (Customer Success Manager). This person became a professional advisor and specialist in their segment, keeping close to the customer and providing them with a proactive service so that they could suggest the best processes and actions to take in line with expected results.
It is known that attracting a new customer costs more than keeping an old one. According to Philip Kotler (1999), “attracting new customers costs 5 to 7 times more than keeping the existing ones.” In the case of long-term recruitment, if the client is not satisfied with the rendering of services and with the interactions they have with his company, they may quickly find another supplier who best meets their expectations. It’s as simple as that.
That is why it is so essential that the whole company adopt the culture of keeping the customer at the center of all processes and why the Customer Success team be the guardian of this change of mindset. To have an area in the company responsible for customer success is essential and strategic for the survival of organizations in the business world.
Is It Supposed to Be Just Another Nice Name?
A critical mistake is to think that CS is just a fancy name for premium support after sales or for customer service. Generally speaking, the Customer Success Manager will be responsible for following the entire client lifecycle, from onboarding and implementation to defining business outcomes and determining which metrics and KPIs will be measured throughout. If necessary, the CSM will indicate new strategies to achieve the client’s goals and, finally, will be responsible for cross-sell and upsell.
We’d Better Go Step by Step:
On a boat ride, the crew should be aligned and know their role in arriving safely at their destination. The helmsman is responsible for the client‘s project. This person is the one who is going to drive the boat and perform the maneuvers required to reach their final destination successfully. The tactical leader is the person from the CS team that says what needs to be done before the problem comes up, who is aware of setbacks and indicates, proactively, which actions need to be taken to ensure that the ship remains on course. In the end, each crew member will perform their role, but with a single goal: to achieve success!
Onboarding is the moment in which all planning for the beginning of the journey comes together: This entails understanding the client’s target market, what stage of maturity the company is in, the goals they want to achieve by using the product, expectations regarding the starting date of the project, definition of key performance indicators, and how and how often this will be reported. It sounds like a lot, but all of these elements should be clear and aligned so that everyone involved in the project is aware of what they expect to achieve at the end of this successful journey.
The Beginning of The Journey
With the boat launched out to sea, the entire crew should be paying close attention to understand if what was planned has been accomplished. As a vessel, the CS team will follow the client, analyze the metrics to determine whether the objectives are being achieved, what may impact or jeopardize the achievement of the goals, and indicate recommendations to change what may not be within the project scope in order to ensure a successful customer experience.
Time to Adjust the Sails
If at some point of the journey the CS team concludes that the boat is not on the course previously defined during the onboarding process, if something on the way didn’t go as planned, if the wind is no longer in favor of the boat, it’s time to adjust the sails.
The CS team will strategically analyze which actions should be reviewed so that the client can reach the expected results.
The Neverending Story
At the end of the day, all the work is done so that the satisfied customer can renew, make new acquisitions, or expand their suite of products or services. And the calculation is simple: objectives achieved + satisfied customer = great chances of retention.
The primary goal of the CS team is to make the customer journey longer lasting and, if possible, a neverending story.