Customer Accountability: Pushing Back to Drive Them Forward

customer-accountabilityA little while ago I introduced the concept of the Success Gap and how customers can use your product to the fullest and still not achieve their Desired Outcome.

And as the vendor you can either ignore the phenomenon and let customers fend for themselves and maybe not achieve the desired outcome – at which point they’ll blame you – or you can take the initiative to try to help them with a bridge for that success gap.

You can do that by bringing in experts, providing content, giving discounts on third-party courses, or building those bridges into the product.

But at some point you also need to let the customers know that they are accountable for some portion of the results.

In fact, one of the things we have to do as part of an operationalized Customer Success initiative is to tell the customer what they need to hear – not what they want to hear – so they do the right thing.

Which means we have to be realistic with our customers about what is on their plate – and what is on our plate – and who’s ultimately responsible for the success of the customer.

This is called Customer Accountability and it’s the missing piece in your Customer Success strategy.

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This Customer Acquisition Mistake Can Kill your Growth

This Customer Acquisition Mistake Can Kill your GrowthCan the customers you’re actively going after actually achieve success with your product or through their interactions with your company as things are today? If not, that’s a problem.

The reasons they might not achieve success range from their readiness (they don’t have the necessary data or internal processes to support our tool internally), technology requirements (we’re built on top of Salesforce and they don’t use Salesforce), or it could be that your product simply doesn’t have everything the customer would need to be successful.

This came up recently when I was talking with the founder and CEO of a SaaS startup on Clarity about their customer acquisition strategy and he said “agencies are our Ideal Customer.”

Then he told me that they currently lack the ability for an agency to do roll-up reporting across all their customer accounts, which, as he put it, is “a critical piece of functionality for agencies.”

I almost passed out at this point… but I gained my composure – and some oxygen – and was able to help him. The following is based on that conversation and I know it will help you, too…

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5 Terms to Avoid in Customer Success

5 Terms to Avoid in Customer Success

Ugh... isn't dealing with customers that don't get it and having to hold their hand along the way or check-in with them to make sure they're okay, annoying? It's so nice when you can hand 'em off to someone else, right?I hear that all the time … [Continue reading]

7 Reasons to Optimize your SaaS Free Trial

7 Reasons to Optimize your SaaS Free Trial

For SaaS vendors, the Purpose of a Free Trial is to create a customer. Period.If you don't agree with that statement then you really won't like pretty much everything else I'm going to say in this article.Free Trials are not for tire-kicking … [Continue reading]

Desired Outcome is a Transformative Concept


One of the most powerful concepts I've ever come across in business is the idea of the customer's Desired Outcome.And if you're thinking "one of the most powerful concepts in business" seems like a pretty hefty charge, you're right; this concept … [Continue reading]

The Seeds of Churn are Planted Early


"The Seeds of Churn are Planted Early" is a phrase I came up with in early 2013, published shortly thereafter, and have said and used many times since.I wanted to go on record with that - BTW, if you see the term’s use outside of my work or that … [Continue reading]

5 Situations When Massive Churn is Just Fine

5 Situations When Massive Churn is Just Fine

The mantra of "grow at all costs" - that seems to include acquiring wrong-fit customers (those who aren't your Ideal Customers), churn be damned - has popped up several times lately and my reaction to it is two-fold.First, I immediately thought … [Continue reading]

5 Lesser-Known Ways Churn Hurts your Company

5 Lesser-Known Ways Churn Hurts your Company

The common refrain by SaaS experts that think business is just a math problem is that if a customer stays long enough to pay back the cost to acquire them (the metric is called Customer Acquisition Cost or CAC), they became a "profitable" customer … [Continue reading]

Podcast: Getting Inside the Minds of Your SaaS Customers


How do you define success for your SaaS customers?While it sounds simple, it’s not.Success is only achieved when your customers reach their Desired Outcome by their interactions with your company.But first, you have to understand what it … [Continue reading]

The Fiction that Friction Improves Customer Onboarding

The Fiction that Friction Improves

A few months back an article was published that talked about how this popular brain training game (I can't remember what it's called) made their onboarding process MORE complex - not less - and increased their active users by 10%.While the … [Continue reading]