Customer Success: The Definitive Guide 2017

Customer Success is transformative.

Whether you have a Software-as-a-Service, subscription or membership business or you sell one-off products or services and simply want to do business with your customer more than once, Customer Success should be your driving purpose.

Customer Success has its roots in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) world and my original definition was very much SaaS-centric.

But since then, companies that are not SaaS, or even technology companies at all, have recognized the transformative power of Customer Success and embraced it as their new operating model.

If you aren’t familiar with exactly how Customer Success is transformative, I’ll lay that out for you below in great detail in this guide.

I don’t know what will happen with Customer Success in the next couple of years, but I wouldn’t be surprised if sometime down the road we’re no longer talking about “Customer Success” as a separate function within a business, but simply as part of the way you do business.

Even today that’s how you should view it.

Why? Simply put; No Customer Success = No Your Success.

You make sure your customers are successful and they’ll make sure you’re successful.

On the flip-side, if your customers are not achieving “success” in their relationship with you, your success is at risk.

Of course, what “success” looks like for your customers is 100% unique to your customers, in the context of your product or service.

So while there’s not a one-size-fits-all definition of lower-case customer success – that’s up to you to know – as far as the concept of upper-case Customer Success is concerned, I’ve attempted to define that for you here.

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Lincoln Murphy Customer Success AMA Transcript and Video – May 19, 2017

roOn Friday May 19th, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below, along with the questions that were asked and my answers.

Yep, if you don’t want to watch or listen, no problem! I got the entire AMA transcribed (and cleaned it up a bit for readability, added links, etc.) and posted that below. I answered 13 questions in great detail.

Follow me on Facebook so you can find out the next time I do one.

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How to Define Roles in Customer Success Management

Most companies just getting into Customer Success start by defining roles (well, one... Customer Success Manager), then they try to figure out the size of the "book of business" the CSM should handle, etc. That's wrong.But I won't leave you … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: High/Low/No Touch Customer Segmentation

The traditional Customer Success method of simply looking at what a customer pays us and giving them a particular level of 'touch' is old and outdated. It's time to logically segment customers based on Appropriate Experience (AX).For context, on … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Incorporating High/Low/No Touch into Onboarding

Proper Customer Onboarding isn't done to prevent churn; it's done to ensure the customer achieves their Desired Outcome. Retention comes from that. But what is "proper" customer onboarding? Let's find out.For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to help Salespeople with Customer Segmentation

The age-old issue of Customer Success and Sales alignment, only this time focused on segmentation.This is my attempt to definitively address this eternal quandary.For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Who Should Handle Upsells?

One of the great Customer Success questions - regardless of how many answers are given or by whom - that refuses to ever actually be answered is who should handle upsells... sales or Customer Success.This is my attempt to definitively answer this … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to Reset Mismanaged Expectations

Carefully. One of the biggest drains on Customer Success Management resources is customers that have not had their expectations properly managed and having to work around that.Avoid that where you can by doing things correctly from the outset, … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Customer Engagement Across the Entire Lifecycle

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company. Those interactions occur across the entire lifecycle.I define Customer Success Management as the process of moving customers … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: Working with Customers that don’t like Technology

Luckily this type of thing is rare, but with Customer Success as our operating philosophy, or Customer Success Management as our operating model, we need to work within the confines of our customer's comfort zone... not ours.This is a … [Continue reading]

Customer Success: How to Tell Customers What to Do

For many Customer Success Management teams, it's easy to fall into the trap of 'just let your customers figure it out.'In fact, it's easy to think that's in their best interest.Leave them alone and they'll discover what they need to on their … [Continue reading]

How to Get Customers to Help Define Engagement Models

Don't hide from your customers. Don't pretend you know everything. Talk to your customers and figure out from that discovery process what your engagement model should look like.You can then extrapolate segment-based models or, for some customers, … [Continue reading]

Lincoln Murphy Customer Success AMA Transcript and Video – May 5, 2017

On Friday May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and while there seems to be an audio/video sync issue, the audio is crisp and listening to this will be time … [Continue reading]

The 5 Fatal Flaws of most Customer Journey Maps

Customer Journey maps are a favorite tool of Customer Experience (CX) and Customer Success Management (CSM) professionals around the world.Very often, they are elaborate, colorful maps - some look like movie storyboards or even children's board … [Continue reading]

The Cost of Bad Fit Customers: The $1.2M Churn and Burn to Learn Mistake

Também disponível em Português por SuperlógicaDo you need to churn and burn customers to learn? A lot of people in startups think so. In fact, a lot of people in companies of all shapes and sizes think so.Think you need to churn and burn … [Continue reading]

Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization

Também disponível em Português por ConpassI asked the VP of Customer Success what her goal was for the Customer Success Management (CSM) organization, and she said, "to ensure customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions … [Continue reading]

Contents of an Awesome Customer Success Playbook

Customer Success has been clearly defined and what goes into Customer Success Management has been fully documented.But when it comes to certain aspects of Customer Success Management, there are still a few things that remain a bit mysterious to … [Continue reading]

Understanding Customer Success Management Compensation Models

What's the best Comp Model for Customer Success Managers (CSM)? How can I create a compensation model that drives the type of behavior we need? What percentage of CSM comp should be variable, and what impact should individual vs. org-level … [Continue reading]

Determining the Number of Accounts per Customer Success Manager

This is otherwise known as, “How to Determine Customer Success Practitioner Coverage Ratios.”Initially, the question was “how many accounts should a Customer Success Manager (CSM) handle?”But people quickly realized that answers like “37 on … [Continue reading]

Customer Success-driven Growth: Rapid, Exponential, and Efficient

Doing whatever you can, spending whatever you can spend, to acquire any and all customers - whether they’re a good fit long-term or not - is played out. That's not a valid growth strategy anymore (it never really was).Today, Investors, Boards, … [Continue reading]