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Value Realization: The Next Frontier for Customer Success

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Value Realization: The Next Frontier for Customer Success
Photo by NASA

The profession of Customer Success has essentially been talking about how to make customers successful since the get go.

Generally speaking this has meant helping the customer achieve their business objectives.

Consistently the industry has looked to drive this success in more efficient and scalable ways and thus the practice has continued to evolve.

But the focus on objectives achievement has predominantly been on reaching project milestones (deployment complete, usage levels met) rather than value realized (x% in productivity gains, y% increase in revenue).

How to regularly quantify and prove to customers the value they realize by leveraging the products and services, has not been universally figured out.

How to Quantify and Measure Value

Customers need to see value.

But what constitutes value in the customer’s eyes and how is it proved and measured uniformly across the entire customer base?

How does Customer Success deliver value routinely, and in a way that customers recognize and agree to?

How is value quantified and measured at scale?

It is harder than it looks.

The use of ROI calculators - to demonstrate projected return on investment that a purchase will deliver - are occasionally used but mostly in a presales context to close the deal.

The post-sales team has not traditionally picked up from where sales left off with the calculator, most likely due to the inherent difficulty in proving the value identified presales.

Value mapping workshops are proving to be a popular trend that companies are employing more frequently presales.

In a value mapping workshop, the sales team and prospective customer sit down to identify the value the prospect is looking to achieve through the use of the product, and then designating the metrics that will be used to quantify and measure that value.

The objective being for both parties to come to an agreement, before the deal is signed, on what constitutes value and how it will be measured so that demonstrating value realized is easily done and recognized by all post-sales.

The idea being that post-sales and prior to using the product, the baseline for the customer is taken using the set of designated parameters so that after deployment and a certain amount of time of usage, the impact due to the product or service can be measured.

In this situation the post-sales team has the means by which to measure the impact directly attributable to the product or service deployed (i.e. the value realized).

Namely, the quantification of value realized is defined upfront and measured thereafter.

Metrics and Direct Correlation to Value

Quantifying the value realized works well when it can be done in a straightforward manner.

That is, it is possible to set a benchmark and tie a direct correlation to some measured parameters that are then used to prove a gain or not.

But what happens if customers do not all see value in a similar manner, or if a direct correlation between value realized and metrics are not possible?

This is where it becomes trickier and where Customer Success is then compelled to handle things in a bespoke manner across the customer base.

Given enough time and resources on an account, quantifying value for any customer is possible.

But it is not scalable.

Is it possible for vendors to come up with repeatable quantification that customers agree to and appreciate, ensuring customer retention and allowing for consistent value delivery?

This is where I have been focusing my thinking lately.

With enough data, in theory, it is doable, but it is not easy.

Forward thinking companies, that once used to define objectives for customers to meet, are now thinking of ways to quantify value in a repeatable manner across the customer base.

This is where I see a repeatable engagement model, in conjunction with a customer maturity model, playing a key role and where Customer Success still has work to do.

As a practice, Customer Success needs to continue to evolve its thinking in how repeatable adoption, ongoing usage and further expansion is driven in order to operationalize how value is realized in a quantifiable, repeatable and scalable manner.

Value mapping workshops, in essence a contract made between the vendor and individual customers agreeing upfront as to what value means, how it will be measured and then realized, is a good start.

But we need to explore how can we drive consistent agreement amongst customers as to the value realized and how its measured, in order to drive repeatable and scalable value realization that is not resource intensive, made overly complex, and is easy and self-discoverable for the customer to recognize.

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