Last week I wrote an article on the importance of customer success being a part of the customer’s experience for the entire journey with the vendor.
The point being that customer experience and customer success cannot operate as disconnected functional organizations as has predominantly been the case to date, but rather the customer’s experience and their success at each stage of their journey need to coexist.
Customer experience and customer success must be viewed holistically from the customer’s perspective, not a vendor centric, operational one.
Companies need to engineer their operations around the customer to ensure successful adoption and consumption of the product, and that the experiences along that journey are positive (which can result even when troubles arise which they invariably will).
So how do the varying functions at an organization align?
By centering their focus on the customer and understanding what the successful customer journey looks like.
With the success path (i.e. journey) in hand, a company has the means to analyze what is required to ensure that customers are well supported (either directly or indirectly) at every point in the journey so that they are successful, as well as to understand what customers could potentially be feeling at each point to consistently deliver positive experiences.
What may an interested party be feeling and what information do they need to know in order to become excited to learn more and move into the sales phase?
What is important to prospective buyers and what are the typical concerns and impediments to overcome in order for them to buy?
How does the customer operationalize technology and what is their company culture like that would create the most efficient onboarding and adoption phase?
What are the customer’s corporate objectives and how can your product assist in achieving those goals in order to deliver ongoing value such that the customer remains loyal and continues to buy more?
At each phase of the customer journey, the vendor’s business functions and roles throughout the organization must be aligned to answer those requirements (for success) and satisfy those needs (for positive experiences).
At the same time, the organization needs to be aware of and design seamless transitions along the journey when functional or role transitions are called for (e.g. from marketing to sales, sales to onboarding, onboarding to ongoing adoption and support, and then on to long-term customer management) to protect against disconnected experiences and provide for successful movement along the journey.
When everyone within the company understands the context of the customer’s larger and on-going journey with the product, then every role and function can determine how best to create customer experiences that are both positive and that drive customer success along the journey.
This is true along the entire customer’s journey whether the function or role is responsible for the customer at that point in time or not.
That is, marketing for example, can still contribute to a great customer experience by providing ongoing communication to the customer even after the sale has occurred.
Customer Success can understand what the prospective customer is going through in the sales cycle and provide sales with valuable information regarding the post-sales experience that builds trust early on in the journey and even before the Customer Success Manager (CSM) is introduced to the account.
When this happens, it is no longer a company centric operation that the customer experiences (and is burdened with learning about) but rather a customer centric one focused on their success and moving them along to the next stage of their journey.
An understanding of the successful journey and the customer context for using the technology, enables a vendor to create consistent and positive experiences that drive customer success.
It is this that correlates directly to success (i.e. revenue ultimately) for the vendor, as well as a more focused and productive means of operating (i.e. cost efficiency).