How To Establish Goals With Your Customers
At Coordinate, we passionately believe that customer success starts with the customer’s goals. To effectively enable, educate, support, and drive value with your customers you need to know what they’re ultimately trying to accomplish and most importantly why.
In this article, we will explore the most effective ways to uncover your customer’s true goals and track them in a collaborative space with Coordinate. To learn more about the importance of understanding customer goals, read this article.
A common challenge we hear from customer success (CS) teams is that their customers either 1) do not share their actual goals, or 2) the goals they do share are low-level tactical goals like “go live in six months”. Often this is because the people they are talking to aren’t the original sponsor or decision-maker driving the initiative for the business. Most likely their focus is on execution since that’s their primary responsibility, and in some cases, they may not even know the broader context themselves. This is why it’s critical to elevate the conversation. When aligning with your customers on their goals, you have to include the sponsors and stakeholders that will ultimately be responsible for the value being delivered. Those are the real decision-makers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy.
The earlier the better
The longer you work with a customer the further removed you can become from the challenges and strategic initiatives that led them to you in the first place. The best time to start talking about the customer’s goals is during the sales process. The sales process is a unique time for several reasons:
- You have the attention of all decision-makers at the same time
- Whatever challenges led to the need to seek a solution are still fresh
- You can set the initial tone for your relationship with the customer
Aside from the clear benefit to you, dedicating time in the sales process to understanding the customer’s goals sends the message that you will be a good partner. It can also be a differentiator when it comes time to make a decision. Ideally, the CS team should be included in the sales process to participate in or lead goals discussions with the customer. If the CS team isn’t involved in the sales process, at least create a formal handoff process so that the value proposition sold to the customer doesn’t get lost.
Create opportunities for strategic discussion
Throughout your relationship with the customer, you can create specific meetings and events to focus on higher-level strategic alignment. Kickoffs and QBRs are perfect examples, but you can also create strategic meetings with customers as part of renewal discussions, upsells, or re-alignment when there’s personnel turnover.
With each of these opportunities, your focus should be to engage in a discussion around the customer’s business goals with the decision-makers that are driving those goals. This also helps higher-level stakeholders stay more engaged with you over time because you’re keeping their high-priority goals front and center. If you’ve ever noticed your sponsors skipping your QBRs or not participating, it might be because you’re spending too much time talking about your products and services and not enough time talking about your customer and the value they’re looking to achieve.
Ensuring customer success means establishing high-value goals with your customers. To do so you need to elevate the conversation, start early in the relationship, and create ongoing opportunities to discuss and align on goals with your customer. Coordinate keeps visibility on the most important parts of your relationship with your customer and can help you engage with stakeholders at all levels. Ultimately it is up to you to build your process around value so everyone stays aligned and focused on what matters most.