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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Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization

I 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 with our company.”

That’s the definition of Customer Success that I developed, so I obviously loved that answer for this reason.

But I didn’t like it because that’s not actually a goal.

That’s their purpose. That’s why the CSM org exists (in fact, it’s why the company exists), but it’s not a goal.

A goal is something that’s meaningful, actionable, and reachable; it’s an objective and a timeframe.

And if you’re a Customer Success leader who wants to get a “seat at the table” with other executives, you need to be able to tie your goals with those of the company and become so important – so valuable to the rest of the company – that you need to reach your goals to drive the company towards their goals.

Let’s dig in…

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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]

Why You Can’t Offset Churn with Upsells

If you lose $1 in revenue through churn - either because a customer cancels their subscription or decides to stay but pays you less because of discounts or downsells - you first need to replace that $1 before you can start to grow.Now, you can … [Continue reading]

9 Things Customer Success is Not

The definition of Customer Success has been clearly laid out.What goes into Customer Success Management has been fully documented.But there's still a chance that you have a misconception or misunderstanding about Customer Success that could … [Continue reading]

Customer Success Management: An Executive Overview

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their Interactions with your company.The actual process of moving customers toward their ever-evolving Desired Outcome is called Customer Success Management.It's … [Continue reading]

The 8 Elements of Customer Success Management

Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their Interactions with your Company.To actually ensure your customers achieve their Desired Outcome - or what they need to achieve, the way they need to achieve it - … [Continue reading]

Logical Customer Segmentation: The Key to Scaling Customer Success

Customers that pay more need more human interaction, right?Customers that pay less don't deserve as much human interaction, right?Customers that we give more human interaction should pay more, right?Segmenting customers based on how much … [Continue reading]

Orchestrating Sales and Customer Success Alignment

If you aren't familiar with the concept of Customer Success yet, it's when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome (what they need to achieve, the way they need to achieve it) through their interactions with your company.Customer Success … [Continue reading]

Success Potential: The Foundation of Customer Success

Também disponível em Português por Mathias LuzCustomer Success starts with acquiring customers that have Success Potential.Customers that have Success Potential are said to be good-fit customers. This is the opposite of bad-fit customers that … [Continue reading]

Excuses and the Myth of Near-Zero Churn

Churn is a drag on growth. Churn hurts company valuation. There is no good reason to have churn in your business.I did an "Ask Me Anything" on Slack as part of the build-up for my “Building an Engine of Growth” Workshop and Keynote at SaaStock … [Continue reading]

Success Vector – the KPI for Customer Success-driven Growth

Customer Success is a Growth Engine. Investing in Customer Success-driven Growth is an efficient way to drive revenue and company valuation, and we need a metric that is designed to measure that growth. Introducing, Success Vector.Customer Health … [Continue reading]

Don’t Mix SaaS Free Trial and Churn Metrics

Any metric that's not acted on is a vanity metric, right? Sure, but that doesn't cover every situation.Sometimes we measure things because we're "supposed to" but honestly don't know what to do once we have the result (add that to the list of … [Continue reading]

SaaS Free Trial Conversion Rate Benchmarks

I'm frequently asked about SaaS Free Trial Conversion Rate Benchmarks; after being asked for the 97th time - this week - I decided to publish this post.First, a bit of a disclaimer. Benchmarks are neat... it's cool to see how you stack up against … [Continue reading]

Churn is a Symptom, Not a Disease

Também disponível em Português por Mathias LuzChurn is when customers cancel their account, don't renew their contract, or remain your customer but pay you less; the latter is referred to as "revenue churn" and includes discounts, down sells, … [Continue reading]

7 Ways Customer Success drives Company Valuation

I've been saying for years that Customer Success is transformative; driving exponential value for both the vendor, as well as the customer. In fact, it's that value growth for the customer that truly drives the value growth for the vendor. What goes … [Continue reading]

Stretch vs. Bad-Fit Customers

What are the characteristics of a Bad-Fit Customer for your business?It's great to know who your Ideal Customer is (my Ideal Customer Profile Framework is constantly updated), but it's much easier - and I say required - to first identify the … [Continue reading]