Customer Success Everywhere: An Organizational Philosophy
Introduction: Who's this Customer Success Guide For?
Chapter 1: What is Customer Success?
Chapter 2: Customer Success Everywhere: An Organizaitonal Philosophy
Chapter 3: What Are the Responsibilities of Customer Success?
Chapter 4: What’s the Difference Between Customer Success, Customer Support, Account Management, and Professional Services?
Chapter 5: Why Is Customer Success Important to SaaS?
Chapter 6: How Do You Build a Customer Success Strategy?
Chapter 7: What Does a Mature Customer Success Organization Look Like?
Chapter 8: Does Customer Success Need Its Own Tool?
Chapter 9: How To Get Started with Customer Success
At ChurnZero, we subscribe to a “Customer Success Everywhere” philosophy. As you may have surmised, this means we believe that Customer Success should be embedded everywhere within an organization. It’s a bold statement, yes – and we acknowledge that it sounds a tad self-serving – but we think you’ll become a believer once you hear us out.
Our organizational philosophy is based on driving success in four key areas: your Customer Success team, your application, your entire organization, and your customers. In the section below, we dive into each of these specific areas.
It’s success for your Customer Success team.
Customer Success teams that do not have a way to track their customers’ usage, journey, and health are forced to live in a perpetual state of the unknown. Actions, decisions, and renewal forecasts are ruled by gut feels and best guesses: What are the odds that my customer renews? What does my customer need right now? When’s the right time to reach out? Where’s my customer struggling most in their adoption?
Predicting customer needs and churn likelihood with consistency and accuracy is near impossible, and exponentially so at scale. Reacting becomes your default mode of operating, scrambling from one event to the next. Not to mention, the internal operational struggles that come with not having a single source of truth for the customer. Disconnected data sources and ad-hoc processes wreak havoc on the customer experience, as well as your internal cross-functional relationships.
But when you manage Customer Success from a place of calculation and confidence that’s rooted in data and process – rather than ambiguity, anecdotes, and speculation – a power shift happens across your customers, across your team, and across your organization.
Your margin of uncertainty decreases; people trust what you say. You have answers to questions that always eluded you; you become an informed advisor. You’re no longer blinded by reactivity; you see the entire playing field.
With better customer visibility and data, Customer Success gains control and moves closer to causation rather than correlation in terms of revenue and organizational growth. Data puts authority behind your work and gives you a backbone to stand against – giving both your customer and your Customer Success team a voice within your organization.
It’s success in your application.
Historically (and before ChurnZero), Customer Success had limited avenues to engage customers. Customers were expected to meet the vendor on the vendor’s terms. Often taking the form of rigid Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) and random “check-in” calls, these meetings were often organized around the vendor’s schedule, quota, and requirements.
The SaaS world evolved, technology advanced, and yet Customer Success stayed behind to schedule their next QBR, simply because it’s the way things have always been done.
At ChurnZero, we recognized this gap and wondered: why aren’t we talking to customers where they are? Why aren’t we meeting them at the moments with the least friction and the most opportunity — when they’re using our platform? Customer Success thrives on customer connection and engagement. Why isn’t the industry doing more to cultivate those relationships?
Because Customer Success shouldn’t entail hunting down and cornering a customer to schedule a quarterly meeting out of an assumed obligation rather than actual value or need.
In-App Tools act as an organic extension of the customer relationship. Reaching your customers in your own application removes the inertia – whether that’s a flooded inbox, jam-packed calendar, or multiple programs – that prevents them from taking action.
Exceptional Customer Success meets the customer where they are with exactly what they need in that moment and, even better, before they even realize they need it.
It’s success shared with the entire company.
While one department may own the core responsibilities of Customer Success, a customer’s decision to renew (or not to renew) is based on their collective experience with your company.
It’s based on the marketing that identifies their pain points.
It’s based on the sales pitch that sells a use case.
It’s based on the implementation, training, and onboarding that launches them.
It’s based on the product that meets their needs.
It’s based on the support they receive when they encounter an issue.
It’s based on the seamless subscription process that keeps them renewed.
It’s based on every single touchpoint a customer has with an organization, and their expectations for that experience.
That’s why it’s in your company’s own best interest to make a customer-first, customer- centric, customer-obsessed – whatever you want to call it – mentality the common denominator in everything you do. If you approach this customer mentality by only relying on Customer Success to prevent churn and improve the customer experience, you’re missing the point and you’ll be disappointed by the results. Customer Success cannot be done in isolation.
All departments need to feel responsible for the customer and respect the customer’s challenges, even (and especially) if they don’t regularly interface with the customer. Your customer should be an omnipresent force in your internal strategies, decisions, and processes. Teams become vested in the customer experience when you make it real for them. You can accomplish this by:
- Democratizing customer data at every level within the organization
- Internally sharing Customer Success reports and dashboards, as well as customer stories far and wide
- Encouraging cross-functional collaboration across your customer journey
When your entire organization stands behind your customer, the customer feels it and you build a competitive differentiator that’s hard to match.
It’s success for your customers.
At ChurnZero, we have a saying: “Challenge your customers.” In some ways, this goes against the conventional wisdom that the customer is always right. But it’s our belief that when you encourage your customers to push the boundaries on what they can achieve, that’s when real self-fulfillment happens. When your customers take ownership of their journey, it creates a far more rewarding experience in the end. But fostering customer accountability isn’t always easy.
One of the biggest hurdles for any Customer Success team is getting customers to invest the time, effort, and focus required to achieve their goals. As effortless as you try to make it for the customer, and as much as you try to lead them down the pathway to success, the customer must own part of the process themselves. It’s the truth that every customer- facing role knows, but for some reason isn’t allowed to talk about.
The fact is that customer-facing teams struggle to challenge their customers (this goes back to “the customer is always right” mentality). People-centric teams tend to be relationship oriented. So, it can be hard to challenge those relationships in an effective and positive way, especially as the vendor who is also charged with solving their problems. How do you get customers to change their thinking and own their half of the partnership?
You first have to be aware of and understand human motivation. Do your customers who show initiative and actually try but can’t succeed understand why they’re struggling? As the customer’s advocate and guide, are you presenting them with the means and opportunities to help themselves? Are you celebrating their wins as they happen? And calling out the misses, too?
It all comes back to the psychology of motivation. As humans, we need feedback loops to understand the behavior that is necessary to achieve our goals. We learn from our experiences. Customer Success needs to let go of the fallacy that unless a task is incredibly easy, you can’t expect a customer to achieve it. At ChurnZero, we believe in expecting more from our customers. Because when you challenge them in a productive way, they get more from you than just a solution.
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