Customer Success Strategy
Buyers have more power than ever, have lower switching costs, and are under increased pressure to demonstrate value. Most companies have adopted a Customer Success approach in order to proactively demonstrate value, increase renewals, and identify (and in some cases pursue) cross-sell and upsell opportunities. In a recessionary environment, retention is the new growth, and market leaders are leveraging their Customer Success teams to make the number from their existing customer base
Customer Success Operating Plan
A Customer Success Operating Plan documents the strategy for the Customer Success team, and helps the function interlock with other teams.
- What It Is – Define the mission, objectives, and KPIs for the Customer Success department
- Why It’s Important – Provides guidance on how to allocate people, money, and time into the Customer Success organization. Drives guidance on how to execute a Customer Success program based on emerging best practices. Maintains alignment and prevents role corruption. Lays the foundation for all Customer Success initiatives.
- How to Use It: Establishing and consistently refreshing the operating plan keeps the Customer Success team focused on Revenue Retention and Growth, and prevents it from becoming a customer and sales support function.
Customer Lifecycle Management
Proactive management of the customer Lifecycle is vital to a successful Customer Success team that drives customer value.
- What It Is – Understand the Customer Lifecycle, and the key leverage points that must be orchestrated by the Customer Success team.
- Why It’s Important – A clear view of customers and their lifecycle is vital to developing the right processes to deliver the outcomes they seek with an experience that will be differentiated in the market. A world class customer experience can overcome deficiencies in the product, or other aspects of your company
- How to Use It – By understanding the customer lifecycle, the points of friction can be proactively addressed.
Accelerating time to value for customers is vital, to better compete for new logos, creating cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, and increasing the chances of a renewal.
- What It Is – During the initial onboarding period, properly introduce new customers and users to products so they truly view it as the solution they purchased that can achieve their desired business outcomes
- Why It’s Important – Customers who are successfully onboarded have increased utilization, value realization and satisfaction. Successful onboarding is the #1 factor in ensuring that customers achieve their desired outcomes from your product.
- How to Use It: A documented Customer Onboarding process helps individual Customer Success Professionals deliver the right messages, at the right time, through the right channel to drive utilization, and ultimately value.
Value Creation & Communication
In this increasingly competitive market, companies must see value in the solution, and can quickly change vendors if they are not experiencing it. Value must be created and proactively communicated to influencers and buyers on an ongoing basis.
- What It Is – Throughout the Customer Life Cycle, companies must identify, generate, and communicate the value created by the solution. Usage is often a key lever, but Customers want outcomes that generate value for them.
- Why It’s Important – Customers take a risk when they buy product(s) or solution(s). Their superiors who signed off on the business case want to ensure that the ROI is realized. Developing and executing on a plan on how and when this is created will ensure all parties take the necessary action to make this a reality. Proactive communication of this value will accelerate the opportunity management process.
- How to Use It – Integrating value creation and communication at multiple points in the customer life cycle is vital to success.
Customer Success Organizational Design
Determining the right leadership structure for a Customer Success team is vital to its success.
- What It Is – Based on a company’s unique customer segmentation, determine the right organization to achieve objectives.
- Why It’s Important – Ensuring that there are sufficient people on the team to complete the tasks that customers expect, while managing to an overall budget is challenging. An effective organization design ill ensure effectiveness and efficiency, while allowing the right amount of coaching and development by the people leaders.
- How to Use It – A well designed Customer Success organization results in clearly defined roles and responsibilities that meet customer needs, drive outcomes, and provide a differentiated experience.
Account Assignment, Quota, & Compensation
Ensuring that Customer Success Professionals are working with the right accounts will make them more relevant to customers. For example, many teams are organized by vertical, so they can be contextual. Geography and/or language considerations may also be important.
- What It Is – Balance customer requirements, company revenue expectations and customer success professional workload to grow revenues. Customer Success compensation plans that enable the company to achieve its revenue targets and maximize incentive compensation to reps that deliver results, while staying in budget.
- Why It’s Important – Everybody on the team can hit quota, Best-in-class compensation plans align revenue performance to corporate strategic objectives.
- How to Use It – Align A-Player talent to your best accounts. Provide a data-driven approach to proactively pursue accounts in your markets. Effective quota and compensation plans help attract and retain A-players and drive the desired customer success behavior and performance, positioning the company for greater success.