TSIA Customer Success Research Trends: Toronto Customer Success Executive Breakfast Review Part II


Customer Success Benchmarks

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.


On September 27th Toronto executives were treated to a visit by Phil Nanus, VP Research Customer Success at TSIA, to review their key benchmark trends for Customer Success.


This particular research study, conducted with over 300 companies, identified key trends that can help inform businesses on how to make incremental improvements to their Customer Success practice.


The companies participating in the research were fairly evenly distributed amongst the following revenue groupings: under $100 million, between $100 million to $1 billion, and over $1 billion.


During our session, we focused our discussion on four of the key trends identified around the topics of:

  1. Organization Motions of Customer Success

  2. Data or Lack Thereof

  3. Monetizing Customer Success


The following is the second part of a two-part summary of the discussion that ensued (you can find the summary of the first part here).


Monetizing Customer Success


49% Monetize Customer Success


49% of the study participants employ some element of monetization of its services to customers.


That is not to say that they fully monetize Customer Success, only that they are looking at ways to offer augmented services or capture revenue through part of the services they offer.


If the data topic causes the most frustration, the monetization of Customer Success causes the most debate.


This topic is, interestingly to me, the one that is still so hotly contested.


Whether Customer Success should be charged for or not is something that still divides folks generally into two camps between the “Trusted Advisor” and the “Account Management” groups.


The “Trusted Advisor” group feeling that Customer Success Managers should hold no quota and be left to only facilitate effective adoption through a trusted advisor relationship.


The “Account Management” group feeling that customers are best served with a consistent, main point of contact that fully understands the account and is therefore in the best position to manage the overall relationship.


That is, Customer Success Managers should be the overall main point of contact for the relationship and responsible for both the aspects of the commercials and adoption.


Personally, I favour the latter approach.


I find the former is a compensation technique employed when a company has not figured out how to align their best interests with that of their customers and therefore feel that the commercials need to be separated from adoption*.


[*with the notable exception of very complex, technical products and where the skill sets of both the technical subject matter expertise and sales/account management skills cannot be found within the same person.]


If the value proposition of a company’s product is such that it is in high demand and delivering the value to customers that it promises, then there is no reason to separate commercials from adoption.


If by the very nature of increasing adoption, the customer is gaining more value, then the discussion of upsells and cross-sells is not some “dirty” sales process but rather a function of doing more to realize more benefit which the customer would naturally welcome.


Not surprisingly, the breakfast group energetically discussed this topic for a while and both camps of Customer Success Manager types were well represented.


All in all, the breakfast resulted in a very lively and active discussion between the Customer Success leaders attending.


The executives left with great ideas on what their peers are doing at their respective companies and took away some key thoughts on incremental improvements that could be made.

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