Customer Success Plans continue to be a rather elusive concept within Customer Success.
People are excited at the thought of using a plan with customers that they can follow to increase the probability of success, and they understand the benefit of having such a plan.
Paradoxically, I rarely see them used.
Activities, or random acts of Customer Success, are instead “acted upon” customers in the hopes that the effort will drive successful customers.
Effort expended at customers does not guarantee their success if they do not know how to achieve it or, are not invested in doing so.
Fortunately, with a bit of forethought into how successful product adoption, usage and expansion is repeated, an outstanding Customer Success Plan can be created and used with customers.
These plans significantly improve the customer experience, make the customer’s journey to success easier and more seamless, and they increase the effectiveness of the Customer Success team in driving customer success.
5 Critical Elements of a Rock-Solid Customer Success Plan
Here are the 5 critical elements to a strong Customer Success Plan (CSP). They:
Are customer-centric: the purpose of CSP is to help the customer realize their goal. Everything in the plan should therefore be focused in the context of the customer realizing their overarching, desired objective.
Are aligned to the customer journey: the CSP should follow the natural path to success that customers follow as they learn, adopt and use your product or services. Understand the customer journey to know what activities are required to drive success.
Clearly outline key activities: the key activities that need to be executed along the journey to reach the goal are known and recorded. The better the work streams are articulated, the higher the occurrence of repeated success is.
Outline responsibilities of both the customer and vendor. Success is a two-way street. A customer needs to be invested in their own success, as well as the vendor helping them get there, in order for both parties to achieve success. Customers that understand what they should be doing and when, are able to execute more effectively. This is where best practices of what other successful customers have done is helpful.
Are simple to understand and follow. Clear and concise CSPs allow customers, who have other demands for their time, to understand what is required of them so they can execute swiftly and easily. Customers should be motivated and excited to make progress, not feel overwhelmed. A good visual goes a long way in articulating what needs to be done when, as well as indicate the progress made to date. Customers that can see the progress they are making visually tend to be more engaged and for the duration of the entire journey.
Rock-solid Customer Success Plans make it easier for customers to achieve success, make their experience along the journey to success seamless and more enjoyable, and they make it easier for the vendor to drive repeated success for all customers.
Think about what your customer’s overarching goal is, understand what the patterns of your most successful customers are along the customer journey to identify activities that must be executed in order to achieve that success, and then outline what the responsibilities of both parties – your customer’s and yours – are in order to achieve that success.
Then use the Customer Success Plan to proactively manage customers through the journey towards success.