Unlocking The Hidden Code Of Superior Customer Success
Customer Success as a framework is not enough. You must also know what it looks like for your customers.
You've spent the last couple of months (or years) promoting Customer Success in your company,
Telling everyone why your company NEEDS a Customer Success Department.
Now, you've finally got it-
You were promoted to build the company's Customer Success Team from scratch.
But now the question is: what should you do next?
Should you take over customer emails? Or maybe map out the customer journey? Or is it better to define KPIs?
The answer is no.
The next step is to define what exactly customer success is for your company.
Continue reading for:
A crystal-clear definition of Customer Success.
The must-ask questions for defining your company's Customer Success.
Customer Success & Customer Centricity
In the previous blog post, I defined Customer Centricity as -
If Customer Centricity is a theoretical approach then Customer Success is its compass.
While Customer Centricity provides the framework, Customer Success reveals the path you need to take within the framework.
In this path,
Point A is your customers' current position.
Point B is where they want to be.
You see, it's not enough to have the framework.
You also need to know where you're heading and what Customer Success looks like for your company.
Customer Success is a necessary outcome for business success.
We all know that Customer Success occurs when the customer achieves their desired outcomes with the product they purchased,
but I want to take a step back and expand this definition;
I believe Customer Success starts when the customer achieves a satisfactory level of return on investment (ROI) (Point B),
it continues when the customer achieves their desired outcomes (Point C),
and it's completed when the customer gains more than they initially expected (Point D).
Put simply, customers begin their post-sale journey with your company once they complete their initial purchase (Point A).
At this stage, while they defined Point C, they might be unaware of Point B and too anxious to think about Point D.
If your customers have worked with other SaaS companies, they most likely have a vague expectation of Point B.
That being said, their anxiety about the journey is preventing them from thinking about Point D.
In other words, customers won't raise their hopes until you've convinced them that you can get them to Point C.
But wait, what are these points?
They're defined by your customers according to their business, industry, and your product, which means that...
Customer Success is NOT one-size-fits-all.
Please don't hire professionals who offer a specific definition of Customer Success without first learning more about your company and its customers.
Since there is no one-size-fits-all definition,
different companies will develop different interpretations based on their customers, products, and industries.
For this reason, attempting to implement someone else's definition in your company will merely be a waste of time.
You have to do the hard work -
Defining Customer Success based on your company, its customers, and their businesses.
This is the only way your company can gain all of the benefits Customer Success has to offer.
The key determinants of Customer Success
As you invest time and effort in developing your own definition, there are a few determinants you should focus on
#1 - Why do people buy your product?
I'm sure you're a product expert, capable of answering support questions and giving demos.
But have you ever dived deep into your product and asked yourself -
Why do people buy it? What problem does it solve?
In this case, your elevator pitch is not enough.
If you don't have a clear answer that includes both your customers and your product, you cannot properly define Customer Success.
Before moving on to the next determinant, I recommend taking at least 20 minutes to learn more about your product
and what you're offering to your customers.
#2 - What is the complete value that customers will realize from your product?
Let me stop you now,
before you start with your elevator pitch (again).
This pitch is not enough to answer this question, as it usually includes only one (very) obvious value.
What I need you to answer is this -
What is the additional, hidden, value of your product?
How does it solve customers' problems? How does it make them successful?
You must identify all of the value that your customers will realize from your product to be able to properly define Customer Success.
At the end of the day, their success depends on all of your product's value.
#3 - How do customers know they're successful?
If you're a CSM or a CS Leader, you probably already know that your job is
to ensure customers achieve their desired outcomes with your product.
Now, take a second to ask yourself:
How do you know if your customers are successful? How do they know?
The only way for you to excel in your job is by measuring your customers' success,
and to do that, you need to align with the measurements that your customers use to measure and calculate the value of your product.
One question I ask my customers at Kickoff Meetings is:
"12 months from now, how do you decide whether to renew your subscription or not?"
Their answer will reveal a lot about:
Their calculations and measurements
Your Customer Success definition is a combination of your answers
Once you have your answers written down, you can finally start formulating your company's definition of Customer Success.
Use the exercise below to make this process easier.
1. Identify the key determinants of your company's Customer Success.
What common problems do customers want to solve with your product?
What goals are they trying to achieve?
How do customers know if and when they achieved these goals? How do they measure their progress?
What do customers expect from you and your company?
2. Define the different points in the customer's post-sale journey.
At what point, do customers start to see a satisfactory level of ROI?
What does this level look like?
How can you make it easier for customers to get to this point?
How long does it currently take for customers to achieve their desired outcomes?
What do customers need to do to get to this point?
How can you make it easier for customers to achieve their desired outcomes?
What might be holding them back from achieving their desired outcomes?
What happens once customers achieve their desired outcomes?
How can you help them achieve more than they expected?
What other values can customers find in your product?
3. Combine the key determinants and the journey into your company's Customer Success definition.
Defining Customer Success isn't too difficult if you know what to focus on (spoiler: your customers).
Learn more about your customers with these posts:
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