Dec 15, 2017

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Predictions for Customer Success in 2018


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We know that Customer Success has become more critical to the recurring business model. One doesn’t need a crystal ball to know it will continue to influence how businesses operate and drive growth in 2018. Besides the role of Customer Success becoming more indispensable what else can we except to see in the new year?

Here’s five Customer Success predictions our CEO, You Mon Tsang, foresees taking place over the next year.

Ownership of all customer revenue (renewal, expansion, upsell) will accelerate its move from Sales to Customer Success.

 Today, the revenue of a customer account can either be owned by Sales or Customer Success. Best practices do not clearly dictate one nor the other. But we will see an acceleration of the ownership towards the Customer Success team. In some cases, a Customer Success Manager (CSM) will be asked to manage the client’s revenue and happiness. In other cases, the Customer Success leader will be asked to build out a dedicated account team that will work beside the CSM to manage the revenue.

Unlike other new disciplines, smaller companies will lead the way in best practices and innovation for Customer Success.

Customer Success requires coordination and handoffs between departments and larger companies will have to fight existing processes, policies, politics and inertia to execute effective Customer Success practices. Smaller companies do not have the same restrictions and will have an easier time building a Customer Success team from the ground up. This will mean that smaller companies will have the opportunity to deliver a better and more coordinated customer experience than established companies.

The trend to create CCOs (Chief Customer Officers) will accelerate but their influence will not match the CRO or the CMO for another 3-6 years.

The CCO will be an established CxO title in the executive suite, but the new-ness of the title and the department means that its leadership will likely be less experienced and perhaps younger. This means that the CCO will struggle to get an equal voice among the executive leadership team despite their outsized impact on the company.

The job market for CSMs will tip heavily towards the employees.

As more companies invest in Customer Success, the demand for good Customer Success Managers will grow. But adding to the mismatch of supply and demand is that the typical job requirement for a CSM will include the rare combination of strong customer service experience and solid selling skills. Very few people have both skill sets; even fewer young professionals possess both. It will be up to the companies to help train up their existing employees to fill the CSM role.

A surprising number CEOs of subscription companies in the 2030s will be a CSM in 2018.

While we will still see many CEOs sourced from Sales, Marketing and Product, the CEO path from CSM up to CCO to CEO will be an acknowledged smart path to the top position. The role of the Customer Success position is broad, impactful and strategic to the company. CSMs will find themselves in a strong position to contribute to the overall health of the company throughout their careers.

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