Friday, April 29, 2016

Customer Success - What It's Not

Sometimes it's easier to wrap your brain around an idea by first defining what it's not; kind of like picking the right answer on a multiple choice test by eliminating the bad choice first.  Sound like fun? Let's give it a go.  For your edification, some examples of what customer success is not:
  • Pipeline Management:  The idea here is to follow the classic sales funnel (aka the image below) by driving the customers up for renewals in the next quarter through that process.  The problem?  Most customers decide whether or not to renew long before the SaaS provider starts this process.  So this approach?  Not customer success.
  • Project Management:  A great model to follow while a new customer is on boarding or while an existing customer onboard new applications or functionality.  But the Project Manager approach fails to address the subsequent crucial nurturing cycle that takes place after Onboarding.  That's not customer success.
  • Customer Support:  The support approach, in practice, deals mostly with resolving escalations: "the customer is unhappy", "the customer has threatened to cancel", you know...all the unhappy situations where providers jump through flaming hoops to make a disgruntled customer happy again.  Activity is triggered by the escalation, and that activity is usually expensive.  In customer success, the idea is to be proactive and make an impact before the customer goes down the path of disgruntlement.  So Customer Support does not equal Customer Success by any means.
Note here that our discussion of what customer success is not has been focused on outcomes: renewals, onboardng, escalation resolution.  None fit.  So what's my suggestion?  Focus on the drivers during the onboarding and nurturing stages that provide your desired outcomes by influence.  That's right, manage a portfolio of drivers in order to add value through a customer success approach.  What drivers?  

Well, kids, it's Friday as I write this.  And T-Bone Walker taught us all that "the eagle flies on Friday" (Google up a tune called "Stormy Monday" for more details on that).  My eagle is set to fly. The next post will be about drivers...probably on Monday.  Y'all have a good weekend.

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