Have you ever wondered what expansion nirvana looks like and how to get there?
It is the existential question for customer success that I continually ask myself in order to define and refine our methodology towards achieving complete revenue performance.
From my elite athlete days, it is in my nature to start with the ultimate performance end goal in mind and work backwards in laying out the plan to get there.
I use the end vision as the north star for advising my clients in driving business growth.
Then we execute and adjust course as the businesses, their customers and the market evolve.
What is Expansion Nirvana?
“Expansion nirvana is a wildly loyal, constantly maturing, customer base that recognizes the beneficial impact of the product on its business, and continues to buy more.” Kia Puhm, DesiredPath
Consequently, expansion nirvana discussions are about the customer’s business and driving it forward, not about buying more product.
Buying more product is a resulting action item (i.e. required step) for the customer to actualize their strategy, not the purpose of the expansion discussion.
Path to Expansion Nirvana
If expansion nirvana is the end goal, then what does the path to getting there look like?
I view adoption and retention as prerequisites to expansion.
Customer Success will not earn the right to explore expansion if the customers cannot see the value add impact of the product on the business.
Customers will not recognize value add to the business and remain loyal if they have not had a frictionless adoption experience, or worse, not yet adopted the product.
Adoption therefore needs to be effortless, seamless and quick for the customer (and efficient for the vendor).
Retention needs to be about demonstrating the achievement of desired business outcomes and return on investment (ROI).
Too often I see companies spending their Customer Success resource effort on product adoption and reactive renewals.
Customer Success Managers (CSMs) focus predominantly on adoption activities that can be codified such as repeatable product training and usage best practices, and then come renewal time, on clearing the deck of escalated issues in the hope of getting the renewal signed.
To move towards expansion nirvana, adoption needs to be repeatable and automatic like breathing.
Customer Success should aim to refine repeatability to the point where it can leverage automation and the customer’s connected experience to advance adoption through low- and tech-touch approaches and spend as little time in adoption as possible.
Retention needs to be about demonstrating value so clients can see ROI.
Through a strong adoption foundation, and proactive monitoring of customer progress that allows CSMs to address issues long before they escalate and in a more efficient manner, Customer Success can transfer its effort to conversations that focus the customer on recognizing their business outcomes and value realized, thus paving the way for expansion discussions.
For ultimate revenue performance, a company needs to have a wildly loyal, constantly maturing, customer base that recognizes the beneficial impact of the product on its business and continues to buy more.
This is expansion nirvana.
To get there, adoption must be repeatable and automatic like breathing, and retention must be about demonstrating business value achieved.
Once this occurs, Customer Success will have earned the right to discuss what are the next steps in driving the customer’s business forward.
If the vendor’s product makes good on its value proposition promise, then product expansion is a natural occurring event in the customer’s goal to driving their business forward.
Expansion nirvana happens as a result of recognized, strategic value.
“Providing a Connected Customer Experience Leads to Expansion Nirvana” was the focus topic at this year’s Customer Connect, a MindTouch event that brings together industry-leading experts in Customer Success. MindTouch invited me to speak about this in San Mateo to the attendees. The above is a summary of that presentation.