At recent meetings of the Sales Leadership Community, Customer Success and Sales leaders discussed how to use Customer Success as a growth engine and growth accelerator in your organization. Customer Success focuses on creating a positive customer experience to leverage every aspect of the customer engagement life cycle to initiate growth in your organization.
Continue reading to discover how to grow your revenue by:
- Using Customer Success as a differentiator
- Using Customer Success to bridge the gap between Sales and Services
- Using Customer Success to be proactive in customer relationships
Using Customer Success as a Differentiator: Focus on Customer Maturity
In traditional sales, your organization may have stood out through product capabilities or price. In today’s market, your organization must differentiate through partnership with your customers that focuses on customer experience and understanding customer maturity. How can your Customer Success (CS) team work with your customers to solve their problems and achieve their outcomes? By aligning your organization’s actions with your customers’ maturity. Every customer defines maturity differently, so asking questions to understand a customer’s own definition of their maturity will establish your CS team as trusted advisors and lead to a more positive customer experience.
When considering customer maturity, think about Customer Success in three ways:
- Grow Accounts – A Customer Success team is focused on identifying opportunities for growth aligned with the customer’s strategy.
- Maintain Accounts – A Customer Success team is focused on retention, advocacy, and organic expansion in established or healthy accounts.
- Protect Accounts – A Customer Success team is focused on retention and advocacy in at-risk accounts. This involves fixing problems and getting these accounts stabilized.
Focusing on a customer’s maturity allows your CS team to focus engagement based on the customer segment and apply resources appropriately. For example, in a growth account, you might assign more senior CS resources and engage more strategically to maximize potential. In a maintain account, you might engage more tactically to keep them satisfied. In a protect account, you might apply resources to resolve critical issues.
Focusing on customer maturity requires constant awareness of the full customer engagement life cycle—from Land to Adopt to Expand to Renew. The ability to retain and grow accounts requires effective adoption and identification of opportunities to expand and renew. These are key skills for a Customer Success Manager (CSM). However, identification of opportunities is not the same as ownership in driving those opportunities. Clarity on who owns primary responsibility for each phase in the customer engagement life cycle is critical to producing a positive customer experience. Landing accounts falls under the responsibility of Sales, but who will own and drive expansion opportunities with existing customers—Marketing, Sales, or Customer Success?
Using Customer Success to Bridge the Gap Between Sales and Services
Customer Success is a continuum of customer support throughout the full customer engagement life cycle. If you are still defining the role of Customer Success in your organization, consider how a CSM might bridge the gap between the customer engagement of Sales and the technical support of Services. Between selling a product and teaching a customer how to use a product lies a myriad of customer-specific issues in which a CSM can support the customer and set them up for success in using the product.
A CSM should first provide a roadmap to implement, then study how the customer is using the product and show them opportunities they are missing to increase value. A CSM must focus on how your organization’s products, services, and expertise help the customer achieve their outcomes. This will lead the customer to feel their investment has paid off, increasing customer loyalty and the likelihood they purchase more services from your organization. A CSM ensures customer satisfaction by identifying a customer’s goals and helping them achieve success according to their organization’s standards.
Using Customer Success to Be Proactive in Customer Relationships
A Customer Success team allows your organization to be proactive in customer relationships by moving beyond problem management to keep the big picture in view. Rather than waiting for the customer to come to you with a problem and then responding with a solution, a Customer Success relationship operates with mutual investment of both your organization and the customer in seeking out both problems and solutions.
What are some specific ways your organization can be proactive in Customer Success?
- Develop a strong structure around customer engagement, such as regular value assessments and health checks.
- Value assessments evaluate customer outcomes. What value is your product/solution providing to the customer? Make sure stakeholders are aligned to that value.
- Customer health checks seek to understand the depth and breadth of how a customer is using your product or solution. Collecting data about usage of products can empower your CSM to proactively consult with the customer around opportunities for expanded use to achieve their outcomes.
- Provide customer experience data to the relevant stakeholders in your organization.
- One goal of Customer Success is to create the ultimate customer experience across all customer interactions. If the customer is not using the product as much as they could, a CSM discovers why. Is it process? Ease of use? Your CS team should identify not only friction points a customer has inside the platform, but also in other interactions with your organization, communicating that information to the right stakeholders in your organization.
- The CS team should also schedule regular meetings with the product team to discuss product improvements based on customer experience.
Is your Customer Success team a growth engine and growth accelerator? Consider:
- How can you use Customer Success as a differentiator by focusing on a customer’s location in the full customer life cycle?
- How can you use Customer Success to bridge the gap between Sales and Services by providing a continuum of customer support throughout the customer life cycle?
- How can you use Customer Success to be proactive in customer relationships, moving beyond problem management to seek out both problems and solutions?
For the full dialogue of the Houston Sales Leadership Community, you can listen and download here. For the full dialogue of the Atlanta and Chicago chapters of the Sales Leadership Community, you can listen and download here. For more information on the Sales Leadership Community or how SOAR Performance Group can help your organization, visit soarperformancegroup.com.