Mar 14, 2023

Read Time 3 min

Systems, controls and client outcomes: a recipe for credibility and respect


This is a guest article by Peter Armaly, vice president of Customer Success at ESG, which delivers Customer Success as a Service® (CSaaS).

For years, Customer Success (CS) professionals, and especially CS leaders, have battled the demons of doubt—those forces within their own companies aligned against them. The forces that slow the full understanding and appreciation for the CS business function and contribute to an environment in which the C-level executive team fails to take CS as seriously as it should. At least, that’s the strong narrative playing on a loop on LinkedIn. If you spend any time on that app, and you’re connected with CS professionals, it’s probably impossible to escape such commentary in your feed.

The perception isn’t due to an exaggerated sense of persecution, though, because there’s a lot of truth behind the anecdotal statements. Even though CS has been around as a distinct entity for roughly 20 years, there is still a significant weakness in the understanding of its purpose and its practice, over a cross-section of industries and across senior executives of all stripes.

We see this ourselves at ESG in our daily conversations with prospects. But where I think we distance ourselves from the crowd of the beleaguered is in the way we consider the situation. We believe there are valid, fundamental business reasons that CS hasn’t found the respect and universal credibility it seeks. Ultimately, these things have to be earned.

Want to learn how your CS team can earn respect and credibility?

Join me on March 23, in Austin, Texas, at ChurnZero’s RYG Workshop where I’ll be presenting a session titled, “Drive powerful client outcomes through Customer Success systems and controls.”

Does that sound exciting or what? Systems and controls… yawn, yawn. Feels like something that NASA would boast about. It probably also sounds like a lot of hard work. It is. No one TikToks about systems and controls. But the hard work is an inescapable fact no matter how many ChatGPT replies try to convince you otherwise. And it’s especially hard work when you break out what’s required to build the kind of cohesive set of capabilities that enable a CS practice to deliver programmatic customer outcomes consistently, measurably, and at scale.

If that gets you down, remind yourself that you’re not building a vessel to travel to the moon and back. You’re building a nimble and resilient structure of processes that leverage people and technology to:

  • Efficiently deliver critical information to customers in a timely and accurate manner. Information that is based on your CS engine’s knowledge of your customers’ needs, value progression throughout their journey, and engagement strength and depth.
  • Collect and analyze customer performance and behavioral data to glean insights and generate automated actions in response to specific conditions that enhance the service CS delivers and help engineers improve the product and sustain its market relevance over time.

That’s all. Is it too much? Another reminder…this is the only way to create the proof necessary to establish the level of respect and credibility within the offices of top company executives and to demonstrate the kind of value that all the other organizations will appreciate and benefit from.

Luckily, the business of ESG is all about organizing and delivering a lot of the hard work that comprises the systems and controls. And our partner, ChurnZero, is a key industry player in that regard. As I’ll be touching on in my upcoming talk, it’s advanced tooling like ChurnZero’s that extends human effort and creates the means for fulfilling the requirement to produce evidence for one’s claims. I call such a category, the burden of proof.

Customer Success systems and controls pyramid diagram (top to bottom): Vision clarity, intentional leadership, and burden of proof

However, the burden of proof is meaningless unless it is made sense by, answers to, and informs a higher purpose. That’s why I see a fully functioning CS practice as constituting three interdependent elements.

  1. Vision clarity: the overarching reason for a business and a business function
  2. Intentional leadership: the advanced ability of leaders to coach, mentor, and steer the organization and its people towards achieving the vision
  3. Burden of proof: the processes, the people, and the tooling that collectively generate value for customers all within the context of the vision

Three interdependent elements that comprise a set of systems and controls, and that are required to effectively and consistently deliver powerful customer outcomes. Easy stuff, not.

Join us at the ChurnZero RYG Workshop on March 23 to learn more. I hope to see you there.


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