Mar 16, 2017

Read Time 5 min

Habits of highly effective CS teams, CS as the foundation for predictive Sales & Marketing, the Value Framework & customer loyalty


It’s a safe bet that many of us have read – or at least have heard of – Stephen R. Covey’s pioneering self-help book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.”

A ground breaker when it was first published in 1990, it is still a best seller today with more than 25 million copies sold worldwide. Covey has drawn in readers for over 25 years with his holistic and principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems, which he presents through a series of penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes. And ultimately his most famous work reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service and human dignity, principles Covey claims “give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.”

Okay, now for a confession: though I have read this book twice (and referenced it at least one other time on this blog), I always struggle when trying to list the 7 habits. On a good day I can usually get 3 of them but I’m pretty sure my remaining 4 guesses are not correct.

So why do I bring this up? Because for me – and for millions of other readers – the experience of reading Covey’s book had an impact on how I approach challenges in my personal and professional life. His philosophies helped me to better understand my personal development and while reading his work did not magically transform me into an always-perfectly-effective person (bummer, I know), it did bring me new awareness around my intentions. In short, the act of seriously thinking about how I could be more effective was ultimately the biggest factor in helping me become a more effective person.

So with this impact in mind, today’s Churn Fighting Focus is about the 7 habits of highly effective Customer Success teams, laid out in a recent post by CSM Wire. While some of the habits are practical/tangible changes your CS team can make and others are more philosophical/mindset shifts, together these 7 habits paint a clear, concise definition of an effective CS team. We highly recommend checking out the full read but here are 3 of the habits to get you started:

  • Measure success on definitive KPIs: CS owns the adoption, retention, expansion and advocacy phases of the customer journey, all of which are revenue-generating functions. And while in the most basic sense CS is accountable for keeping customers ‘happy,’ more importantly CS is responsible for making sure customers are successful and hitting milestones, reaching goals and continually receiving value. And as CSM Wire points out, “If you’re just getting started, identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) is something you can do right away. KPIs should represent your impact, not just on happy customers, but on revenue as well. Once you establish those KPIs, it’s easy to start mapping out how they impact your business model.”
  • Engage in strong cross-departmental alignment: It’s no surprise that each team within your company is likely focused on what is important to them. But as CMS Wire explains, “CS teams that align closely with Sales, Marketing and Product Development teams not only improve adoption but also improve across every stage of the customer journey. This ensures that Sales and Marketing are bringing in customers that are a good fit and in return, the CS team can increase advocacy through marketing and sales enablement materials such as testimonials, case studies and reviews.” When you have a strong CS department, there is a warm path to Product Development and as the CS team develops customer advocates, Sales will begin to see the impact of Customer Success.
    • For more on aligning Sales and CS, check out this post and this post. And for more on why Product and CS should be BFFs, check out this post.
  • Operationalize the entire customer journey: CSM Wire puts it very clearly: “Use blueprinting, also known as customer journey mapping, and success plans to ensure you understand the steps customers go through while engaging with your product or service. With blueprinting, you can identify the steps that warrant logical engagements to ensure success, determine how to maximize ROI at critical in points throughout the customer journey and manage desired outcomes.”
    • For more on creating customer-centric success milestones, check out this post and this post.

Customer Success Around the Web

  • CS is the foundation for predictive B2B Sales and MarketingIn 2017, customer experience (CX) and machine learning will work together to be the defining element in B2B Marketing and Sales strategy. This increased importance in creating seamless CX, driven by the underlying need to more effectively link customer data with business data, will push companies to align not just Marketing and Sales, but all revenue-generating and customer-facing departments – including Customer Success and Product Development. This post is a simple walkthrough of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind predictive Sales and Marketing strategies, founded in your own customer data. An interesting read for anyone who is working to strengthen their cross-departmental alignment.
  • The Value Framework’s impact on customer loyaltyIt’s easy to understand the value of adoption from the customer’s perspective. But there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. To connect the dots between adoption and value realization as sellers, we must first recognize the drivers behind every purchase and the outcomes our customers are seeking to achieve. Effective adoption for the customer should be measured by their definition of success, not just by how many times they’ve logged into the solution. As this thoughtful post explores, product usage is one thing but value realization is the ultimate goal. When you truly understand the experience the customer has and how that action translates into their ability to achieve their desired business outcomes, that’s what moves the needle. A great read for any teams who are working to improve their tracking of customers’ outcomes.
  • To understand your customer data, think like a psychologistRegular readers of this blog know that I am a self-professed psychology nerd and that I routinely bringing up psychological theories to add color and depth to how we assess our customers’ behavior. So of course this post – about how we need to think like a psychologist to better understand our customers – caught my eye. While it’s written with marketers in mind, the post offers several ways to re-frame your thinking that are applicable to both Marketing and CS. A quick but worthwhile read.

Word to the Wise

This week’s wisdom comes from Bill Macaitis, CMO of Slack, in a recent talk about how unified Customer Success metrics can drive Marketing, Sales and Support – or as he puts it be “the one ring to rule them all” (Tolken fans unite!). Macaitis dives into how Customer Success is crucial to building a brand, as a brand is “a sum of every single experience someone has with you.” But his ideas around the role your organization’s chosen metrics plays in shaping positive or negative behaviors really caught our attention:

I have a theory that short term metrics are behind [bad brand experiences]; these are ‘Sauron Metrics,’ short metrics that incentive bad organizational behavior and result in crappy experiences. There is never an evil person that is like, ‘I want to screw the customer over, how could I do it?’. But organizational behavior is driven by what metrics we choose. And I’m going to say something controversial: I think bad metrics include leads, opportunity, pipeline, gross margin – I think these all incentivize really bad behavior. On the flip slide, I think good experiences can really shape a brand. […] And I think good experiences come when an organization rallies behind long term metrics that incentivize good organizational behavior. I think the Golden Standard [for companies should be] ‘are [our customers] going to recommend?’ – it’s a much higher bar. So you have to prioritize good metrics – ‘Gandalf Metrics’ – like NPS, CSAT, Engagement to ensure the answer to this question is yes.” 

We recommend listening to the whole talk; it’s only 10 minutes and his ending thoughts on how to organize and incentivize your Sales, Marketing and Support teams with long term metrics is definitely worth your time.


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