For companies operating on a subscription-based business model, there’s an immense amount of pressure to keep customers engaged enough to renew their contracts. Customers today are expecting to receive even more value for their dollar, so how do we as an industry show them the value we can provide? While no one knows your product or service better than you do, you should get to know your customers just as well, and that’s where building customer success capabilities within your organization can help.
What Customer Success Isn’t
I’m frequently asked what customer success is, but in order to fully grasp the concept, it’s sometimes easier to talk about what it isn’t. Customer success isn’t just a rebranding of current customer support functions within an organization, and it’s not just a temporary “get well” program intended to fix problems in the short term. It is also not easy, but it is possible to implement this function within your organization as a way to make sure your customers are on the right track to adopting your technology and renewing their subscriptions.
Customer success is all about making sure that your customers are continuously receiving the amount of value they expect to receive by investing in your product or service. It’s more than a one-time fix and should be an ongoing conversation with your customers to inquire about their goals and making sure your solutions help them achieve their ROI.
4 Questions to Get Your Organization Started in Building Your Customer Success Team
There are many capabilities your organization must have in order to launch, re-launch, or streamline your customer success function. Here are four questions you can start asking of your company today as a way to gauge where you are on your customer success journey:
- Customer Analytics. Do you have the data streams and expertise to monitor how your customers are using your technology, and are you using this data to develop services that are proven to increase adoption of that technology?
- Adoption Frameworks. Do you have established frameworks for assessing customer adoption levels?
- Expand Selling Models. Have you developed an effective strategy for selling offers and expanding account presence after the initial implementation of your solution?
- Developing Outcome Offers. Do you have the ability to define and develop services offers that are designed to deliver specific customer outcomes?
If you can say that your company has these things in place, you’re on the right path to customer success. If you can’t, you’ll need to step back and honestly assess whether you’re looking at a true customer success team or simply a rebranding of various teams you already had in place.
When it comes to determining whether your organization is ready to support customer success, if you decide that you’re not quite there yet, you’re not alone. Last year we conducted a baseline survey to get a snapshot of where other organizations are in their customer success journey. We asked questions that, if answered, meant that these companies had successfully implemented enough functions necessary to successfully promote customer success. Surprisingly, we found that 82% of the respondents could not answer all 40 questions, which tells us that customer success is still a relatively new capability.
Customer success is still being defined, and while it is not yet mature in the organizations that have it, this up-and-coming concept is quickly becoming an essential part of the daily operations of technology service providers industry-wide. For additional help in optimizing your services organization for customer success, be sure to take advantage of this handy checklist from TSIA that lists the capabilities you’ll need in order to develop a thriving customer success function in your organization.
About the Author
Judith Platz is vice president of research, Customer Success and Support Services, for TSIA. During her over 25 years of customer support experience, she has been responsible for supervising and coordinating multiple functional, strategic, organizational development and technical work streams, including technical support, account management, business consulting, implementation management, and training. Judith can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.