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CEO Insights On Value Realization From Customer Success: Toronto CS Executive Breakfast Review

Customer Success Operations Customer Success Value Realization
Customer Success Operations Customer Success Value Realization

The Toronto Customer Success Executive Breakfast is a forum whereby local industry leaders get together over breakfast to discuss the still young and rapidly evolving field of Customer Success.

Co-hosted by Natasha Narayan and myself, and Sponsored by Gainsight, senior executives in the field of Customer Success are invited to share their knowledge and expertise amongst their peer group in an intimate and highly interactive setting.

The breakfast is an opportunity for these leaders in Customer Success to convene, exchange ideas and further define industry best practices.

This past week Toronto executives were treated to a visit by Omer Rabin, Gainsight’s Head of Industry Evangelism, to review recent research findings presented by McKinsey & Company in partnership with Gainsight.

The research, conducted through in-depth interviews with 300 enterprise CEO’s, identified their key insights on how to get value from Customer Success.

The overall findings were boiled down to eight key metrics; four of which identified where CEO’s believe the money is in Customer Success, the other four focusing on what it takes to execute.

Where is the money in CS?

Overwhelmingly, 95% of C-level executives believe there is a strong correlation between an integrated Customer Experience and financial value.

Very specifically, these CEO’s expect to see an average of 20% lift in retention, usage and customer satisfaction as a result of their customer success efforts.

They also believe they will see a bigger impact by focusing holistically on accounts versus individual users.

Interestingly, the CEO’s are still unclear as to whether or not Customer Success will bring any potential cost savings to the organization, presuming only a 10% savings.

The question on the table is no longer whether customer experience matters but rather how does an organization functionally align itself to execute and deliver this integrated experience.

What does it take to execute?

With the question of how to execute firmly on their minds, CEO’s believe the following four elements are key for executing and realizing value from Customer Success:

Centralized accountability and governance drives a big lift (2.5x) in value.

That is, someone within the organization needs to own Customer Success and drive it organizationally to ensure an integrated Customer Experience strategy is executed.

[Note: I wonder what the research found, if anything, about the concept of Customer Experience needing to be a cross-functional endeavour across the organization to be fully effective?  That is, while CS should be managed centrally, I still strongly believe that the alignment of efforts across the entire organization is required to holistically drive customer success.]

Customer onboarding of the product and the product experience itself are hands-down the top two most important factors in contributing to the customer’s success.

And 85% of the CEO’s interviewed felt that there needed to be stronger KPI’s (key performance indicators) and link to value in order to effectively measure the impact of Customer Success.

The most interesting element that CEO’s believe, in executing Customer Success to drive value, is that they expect to realize it from their CS efforts within less than 6-12 months.

Which has interesting implications for those running, or operating within, Customer Success.

Your CEO’s strongly believe they will realize value from Customer Success, that you are primarily responsible for achieving the results, and that you have potentially less than 6 months to do so (less than a full, annual renewal cycle).

Needless to say, this precipitated a very lively discussion amongst the group!

In addition to the cathartic benefits of group empathizing, folks were able to share their experiences and best practices in handling the expectations of their CEO’s.

All in all, an interesting insight into what CEO’s are thinking and what we, as Customer Success professionals, can do to continue contributing value to the business and, while doing so, how best to manage expectations in order to effectively execute.

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