Klass regularly brings in subject matter experts to discuss specific functional areas with a representative group of senior executives from their portfolio.
I was invited to speak about the future of Customer Success.
Participants had a broad range of interests related to the topic from understanding more about Customer Success as they start to formalize the function and hire their first Customer Success Managers (CSMs), to consistency of process for more efficient and proactive Customer Success, to scaling the practice for accelerated growth.
The interactive gathering saw us explore the key challenges facing Customer Success and where the industry is headed, the three tenets to building a customer centric business model and how to make the case for change internally to a customer centric approach using compelling metrics proving out the return on investment.
The Future of Customer Success
To understand where the industry is headed it is important to understand the problems Customer Success leadership is trying to solve.
I shared Eloqua’s story of its journey to building a scalable, sustainable and proactive Customer Experience practice to illustrate how Eloqua addressed these challenges and to highlight the vital importance of a customer centric approach to a company’s success.
In fact, research conducted by Forrester last year found that companies focused on customer success grow revenue 14% faster than their competitors.
The new customer centric business model, designing business operations based on customer understanding and perspective to drive their desired outcomes, is here to stay.
And it works!
My clients alone have experienced a 200% increase in revenue, a 33% improvement in product adoption velocity, a 2x capacity increase in CSM ratios, a 50% reduction in escalated issues, as well as increased customer and employee satisfaction.
Customer Centric Organizations
So, if a customer centric business model is the way of the future, how does an organization go about building one?
My strong belief is that there are three tenets to customer centricity:
Customer Centric Thinking
I like to use the analogy of a road trip when describing each tenet.
That is, know where the passengers want to go, ensure that the vehicle is performant in getting them there and make certain that everyone is headed in the same direction.
Same with a customer centric business model.
First understand the customer and what they want to achieve.
Why did they buy? What are they looking to accomplish? What business value are they expecting to realize? And what motivates them to execute?
Then codify the success path of your most successful customers by mapping out the customer journey.
This is important for the next tenet which is aligning the business to support the customer to success.
With customer journey map in hand, align role responsibilities and adoption processes (or plays) accordingly.
This effectively aligns what a company needs to perform operationally to deliver success to its customers.
Thirdly, make sure everyone in the company is aligned to appropriately back the customer by tying the bonuses of all employees to relevant customer metrics such as Net Promoter Score, Customer Satisfaction, Net Customer Retention Rate, Net Dollar Renewal Rate etc.
Making the Case for Change
Just in case the Forrester research and client results achieved through customer centricity are not reasons enough to make the change here are some more to sweeten the pot.
Tying together every element of the business back to the customer makes sense.
Moreover, with customer observation and feedback via the customer journey at the heart of the model, businesses protect themselves against the threat of disruption by being agile in response to customer needs.
Driving desired customer outcomes to deliver the value customers expect, in the most effective and efficient manner possible, that is consequently responsive to the ever-changing needs of customers and protects against disruption, and which ultimately drives revenue.
A quadfecta that would have anyone jumping to make the case for change!