Changes are happening all over the world, and businesses are in a whirlwind of change. I interviewed Jackie Golden, Global SVP of CS at CoreView, to share her thoughts on how companies should plan the future while managing current business challenges and its subsequent impact on experience and customer success.
According to Jackie, the biggest challenge for most CS organizations is staying focused on how to define (or establish) success for their customers.
What I see in practical execution, are tactics for focusing on building relationships. CSMs are focused on how to make customers happy, how to build relationships, how to make customers feel loved, and how to resolve their issues.
But when you start looking at metrics like Net Dollar Retention, NPS, CSAT, and product usage, there's a wide gap. The Leadership team is questioning why customers are being reported by the CSM team as happy, but the product utilization and value realization that would lead to higher Retention rates are not going in the right direction or improving. They are asking why and where are customers getting stuck? What should we do?
Does CS have all the answers to these underlying questions? Yes, but if we focus too much on tactics, we will lose sight of what our real job is, which is to show customers how to get value from the product/service. Organizations must find new directions and think about changing the traditional business mindset on how to deliver value to customers.
Utilizing technology and its full scope
Another challenge that emerged during this pandemic was how to create and execute on the Customer Success Roadmap plan virtually. How do we help customers achieve results in a short period of time virtually? Can we put together a plan that will connect the dots for a customer from where they are today to the vision of what the products can do for them in the next year?
The CS plan is not just about reviewing prevailing patterns (process, guidelines, and provision). It should also reflect ongoing customer involvement and what customers are required to accomplish to ensure value and ROI are achieved.
For CS plan to become sticky, it must embrace or involve technology to improve a process, reduce costs, profitability, save time, money, and resources. Ultimately, this is what customers are trying to do. They use technology to allow them to do more with less in the most cost-effective way.
Other things to consider to help improve the effectiveness of the CSM are (1) What are customers looking for in their CS partnership to thrive and grow? (2) Do the CSMs know their own products and services well (against their competitors)? (3) Do they understand the market they are serving, how you differ and the advantages or thought leadership you can bring to the customer?
In other words, tactics are not enough, and it will not allow customers to get more value from the product/service without a specific customer roadmap plan in place. Remember, customers will not know what the plan should be. CS needs to define what is required for the product and service to make it sticky and operationalize the usage.
If you get the customer success roadmap plan right for each of your markets, all other metrics we measure like NPS, CSAT, CES, and Net Dollar Retention follow suit. It is embedded now in every element of business that makes the relationship as productive as possible.
There is a way for the CS team to build deeper bonds and relationships with stakeholders they are currently working on. An interesting idea to get Stakeholders to attend the CSM meetings, is to share the roadmaps plan with the customer team. The team would then realize they need to invite their leadership team to review and agree or approve the plan in order to move forward with the engagement.
Roadmaps are a great way to invite stakeholders to the meeting. The reason some customers hesitate to invite their leadership team is that they know how valuable and limited their time is and if there is no value to be offered, then they won’t waste their time by inviting them to the meeting.
If you have something like a roadmap plan with specific goals and high value outcomes that can generate real ROIs for the customer and it will show how your product and service will get them there in a short period of time, then there is value for the leadership team.
Investing and prioritizing customer success through a step-by-step plan is a commitment that the business is serious about succeeding and achieving their goals and agree to the right outcomes that are valuable to them.
When it comes to planning and establishing internal success metrics, I developed a capacity model for my entire services team (CS, Education, Professional Services, Support). For each role, I created a profile and what it takes to do that job from the best practices perspective.
When setting up this type of process, leaders should start analyzing and tracking data. That data, for example, comes with the CSMs executed plans for each customer by target market.
For example, how many touchpoints, how long, and what types of touchpoints do they do? Then examine each metric around it. How does this relate to business outcomes (renewal rate, NPS score, CSAT, usage, and product stickiness)? Baseline this data for at least a couple of quarters.
As customer relationships deepen, measuring success can be measurable and attainable. Having the ability to understand how it affects experience and success gives us better visibility of where and what kind of support is required and needed.
Investment in technology
Depending on the industry you serve, investing in customer success involves resources, time, training, supporting people, and how it benefits customers to achieve the success they expect as quickly as possible.
Whatever your industry and market you serve, it is easy for customers to get what they need in a highly competitive market for most products and services. CS organizations should focus on creating a roadmap that is easy for customers to follow a step by step process or plan that will ensure they can achieve their desired outcome. Today, customers can quickly change vendors if they do not see the value of the product or service in a short period of time.