How To Put the “Success” in Customer Success

Customer success is about ensuring that your customers can achieve success while utilizing your products and services.

Good CS teams will work to make sure their customers have the tools and knowledge they need to have a high chance of attaining success. The best customer success teams not only enable their customers, but also know 1) their customer’s broader business goals and 2) how their products and services can fit into the bigger picture. Focusing on enablement says to your customers “We are a provider that will help you use our products.” Focusing on your customer’s goals says “We are a partner and we aren’t successful until you are successful.” Who would you rather work with?

Accurately defining success with your customer can have a big impact on your relationship and their success with your products. With the right goals you can:

  • Motivate and contextualize your work with the customer
  • Ensure teams are focused on the right things
  • Keep sponsors engaged and informed
  • Establish your role as a partner rather than just a provider

If instead, you focus on tactical enablement you’ve likely missed the opportunity to tie yourself to the bigger business value received by the customer. Furthermore, you are putting the customer at risk because your definition of success is far too narrow. Once implemented and enabled, does the customer have the resources and training to achieve the value they are expecting? What is the timeline for them to realize value from your products beyond onboarding? These are the important questions that are missed when you focus only on your deliverables.

Identifying high-value goals with your customer isn’t always straightforward, but a good rule of thumb is that they should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Increase Revenue
  • Reduce Cost / Improve Efficiency
  • Reduce Risk

With that in mind, consider the following scenario:

A company providing a data warehousing solution that helps companies aggregate, clean, and standardize data from multiple sources needs to ensure their customer is successful so they can retain and grow the account. Their customer is a rapidly growing company with siloed data across multiple tools that are starting to feel the pain of manual reporting and analysis of their data.

An easy goal as the provider would be: Unify the customer’s data on our platform in 3 months.

That might even be the way the customer first presented their goal. However, it’s hard to put that goal into one of the 3 categories for valuable goals because it doesn’t actually represent a valuable outcome for the customer. Unifying the data may enable high-value outcomes for the customer, but that in and of itself is not a valuable outcome. This is a great example of one of the most common customer success mistakes: celebrating too early. With the wrong goal, the provider will think they’re done providing value and will miss the opportunity to help the customer realize true transformational value for their business.

Instead, it’s important to uncover the goals that are driving the customer to seek a solution in the first place. Some possible value goals that would be related to unifying the customer’s data are:

  • (Efficiency) Reduce overhead in our oversight operations
  • (Risk) More quickly surface critical errors in our data so that they can be addressed
  • (Revenue) Enable more sophisticated modeling and forecasting to drive business decisions

Any one of these goals does a better job of capturing why the customer wants to consolidate their data. They may have all three of these goals if they choose. The provider needs to have a conversation with the customer and figure out what they are ultimately looking to achieve. For some tips on how to engage with your customer to get aligned on their high-value goals check out Establishing Effective Goals With Your Customers.

With proper alignment on the goals that provide value to your customers, you will be in a much better position to ensure their success. In turn, you can establish yourselves as an effective partner rather than just a provider which opens up more opportunities for upsells and expansions within their business. Coordinate makes it easy to document, align, and track your customer’s success. Here’s to engaging with your customers to align on their high-value goals and follow-through to deliver them!

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