Everything has changed.
We are not commuting into the office, going to theatres, sports venues, shopping malls and grocery shopping has become a sport (getting in and out of the store as quickly as possible with the aim of dodging the coronavirus).
And it hasn’t.
We are still keeping busy working, caring for loved ones, cooking, exercising and keeping in touch with friends (perhaps, even doing all of those things more).
I have been talking to many executives about how the evolving situation has impacted their organizations and Customer Success.
SaaS Customer Success Best Practices
My initial observation is that this crisis has been a forcing factor to get back to the fundamentals of solid, customer success management.
The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious, and an imperative, that companies employ a customer focused strategy to keep their customers and retention rates high.
If companies were not already actively, customer centric, they have become so and quickly.
Speaking with customers, building relationships, understanding their needs and proactively helping them to realize value has all increased significantly.
Even without realizing it, organizational alignment around the customer has fallen into place with product working more closely with Customer Success and Sales than ever before to address customer needs, executive teams are joining customer calls more often and every function is unified behind the account to protect net retention.
Customer Success is innovating how they help customers by offering new, specialized knowledge so that their customers know not just how to use the products, but how to leverage them in order to achieve their business outcomes.
Businesses are realizing that it is not, and cannot be, just Sales that “keeps the lights” on in terms of customer retention and revenue growth. A coordinated, customer focused strategy requires cross-functional collaboration.
Customer centricity, customer experience and customer success are the key elements in a customer retention plan.
But this has always been the case.
The problem is that in many cases, companies were operating without a clear focus and a lot of competing priorities focusing on their own growth strategy at the neglect of their customer’s.
A luxury no longer available to them in a bear market.
Luckily for customers and vendors that have long ago employed a customer focused strategy, the focus back to the fundamentals of solid, customer success management means better customer experience, customer success and revenue growth.
I have also been thinking a lot about what effect this will all have on the profession of Customer Success.
While the pillars of customer success management still hold true, is it still true in how customer success operationalized?
What Do You Think Customer Success Will Look Like Moving Forward?
In posing the question of what customer success will look like moving forward to a group of senior executives, they had the following to share:
Sustaining customers is healthy. Companies are better aligning around the customer and focusing collectively on revenue. As one executive told me that a mentor of his once said:
"You know you’re running a clean SaaS business if you don’t need any new customers. Sustaining customers is healthy.”
The organizational makeup of a company will change. Companies will require more operations focus ensuring that all functions are customer centric and aligned. Will sales headcount be reduced and new partnerships be formed to fulfill the sales function? Organizations will not be built on road-warriors.
Customer relationships have evolved. It’s harder to get customers on the phone, the need for more personal relationships and the use of other channels for communication (texting, social channels, messaging) is required.
The focus on “crisis resilient” products and product features that serve customer needs has increased. Product is much more willing to work on things customers are requesting.
What do you think Customer Success will look like moving forward?