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 hanging! Nope, I’ll tell you the correct way to define roles in a Customer Success Management organization.

Hint… it all starts with proper Customer Segmentation

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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Success method of simply looking at what a customer pays us and giving them a particular level of ‘touch’ is old and outdated.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 Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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 did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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 (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success: Determining Which Customers on which to Focus

From a Customer Success perspective, this is the wrong question to ask.

You must “focus” on all customers since proper Customer Onboarding is critical for all customers to achieve their Desired Outcome.

The way you operationalize around all of your customers to ensure they’re all Onboarded in an Appropriate way will come down to logical Customer Segmentation.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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 question.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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, but if you’re there already, maybe this will help you.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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 toward their ever-evolving Desired Outcome. Again, across the entire lifecycle.

You can’t have Customer Success without engagement across the lifecycle.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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 thought-provoking question with, hopefully, an equally thought-provoking answer.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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 own. But in most cases, that’s the exact opposite of what you need to do.

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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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, create unique engagement models just for them (if it makes sense).

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success-driven Marketing: Targeting Offline Customers

Customer Success should drive everything your company does, including sales and marketing.

When it comes to targeting customers that aren’t online, first, I’d push back on the assumption that your customers aren’t online.

Second, I’d remind you that Customer Success-driven Marketing means understand the customer’s Desired Outcome so you can craft a message that gets their attention and then understanding where to put that message so they see it.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

For context, on Friday, May 19, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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

On 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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The Process for Discovering your Customer’s Desired Outcome

Customer Success is when your customer achieves their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.

Desired Outcome is Required Outcome + Appropriate Experience.

Each customer segment will have its own Appropriate Experience (AX) – even if they share the same Required Outcome – and this will tell you the type and level of coverage (humans – required skills, characteristics, etc. – plus technology).

But below I go into more detail about the process and why it’s critical for you to understand…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success: How to Close the Feedback Loop with…

Customer Success Management, Marketing, Sales, Product, and the Executive team all have unique information about the customer.

This includes how the customers talk about what they do, how they talk about and use our product, how any of this aligns with our strategic direction (or not).

So creating feedback looks among all of those parts of the company is part of Customer Success Management.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success and Upgrading Grandfathered Customers

If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, you likely have customers that you’ve “Grandfathered” into old pricing tiers or feature sets that are obsolete now.

How can you get Grandfathered customers to move to your current pricing model in a customer-positive way?

I have some ideas for you…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success in Early-stage Startups

Early-stage startups think Customer Success isn’t for them. Wrong!

Not only is Customer Success for startups (along with established companies), it’s also your key to growth without the friction of churn and bad-fit customers distracting you from rapid expansion.

Let’s talk about how to apply Customer Success in early-stage startups.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Drawing the Line between Customer Success and Support

How do you draw the line between Customer Success and Customer Support?

This seems like a logical question until you understand the reality behind operationalizing Customer Success Management.

Let’s dig in…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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The best Customer Success Management (CSM) Software

What is the best Customer Success Management (CSM) Software on the market today?

As you might imagine, that question comes up frequently for me.

Below, I try to give you the best answer I can on this very important piece of your Customer Success strategy.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Why Aligning Sales and Customer Success is Critical

The goal of Customer Success for your company is to get customers to stay longer, buy more, and advocate for you.

So it’s critical to remember that Customer Success begins at the first interaction with prospects by your sales team, continues across their entire lifecycle, and is required for scalable, repeatable Account Expansion.

Which means it’s absolutely critical for Sales and Customer Success Management to be aligned.

Let’s dig into this…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success and Charging Setup Fees

So, do Setup Fees jibe with Customer Success?

Are they mutually exclusive? Can they play well together?

Is there a time or place where they’re more appropriate?

The answer is, of course, yes. And no.

Don’t worry… I unconfuse it all below.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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The Biggest Customer Success Mistake (and How to Avoid it)

Spoiler Alert: The biggest mistake you can make in Customer Success is not putting the customer first – this is CUSTOMER Success.

If what you’re doing isn’t designed around the customer’s Desired Outcome, I have no idea what you’re doing.

You’re doing something, but it’s not Customer Success.

But let’s talk about why this matters…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Determining the Ideal Customer Success Organization Structure

A persistent question in Customer Success Management is what the ideal organizational structure is.

A great example of this is this question I received: In a large enterprise platform with a high-revenue customer base, do you see any pros or cons to having the Customer Success Management team and the pre-sales team working under the same leadership?

Such a simple question… with a not-so-simple answer.

Let’s dig in…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success in Two-sided Markets

Customer Success Management is about ensuring customers achieve their ever-evolving Desired Outcome.

Regardless of the model – two-sided market, partner model, direct-to-customer, etc. – every entity in the value chain has a Desired Outcome.

It’s up to you to discover what that is and facilitate the achievement of that (ever-evolving) Desired Outcome, and it all starts with getting clear on Success Potential for each link in the value chain.

Let’s explore this idea further…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success: The Secret to Improving Customer Adoption

Customer Success Management is about ensuring customers achieve their ever-evolving Desired Outcome.

It’s not about adoption.

It’s not about the breadth and depth of use of your product.

These are big ideas you need to move past if you want to be successful in your Customer Success initiative.

Let’s explore this idea…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success in a B2B2C (Partner / Value Chain) Scenario

Customer Success is defined as our customers achieving their Desired Outcome through their interactions with our company.

Think of that definition of Customer Success as your Operating Philosophy.

That philosophy can be extended to the greater value chain or ecosystem you work within.

Every entity in the partner/distribution value chain has a Desired Outcome.

It’s up to you to discover what that is and facilitate the achievement of that (ever-evolving) Desired Outcome, and it all starts with getting clear on Success Potential for each link in the value chain.

Let’s dig into this…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Customer Success: How to Monitor Customer Happiness

Customer Success is not about making customers happy. In fact, there are 8 other things Customer Success is not if you’re so inclined.

But for the sake of this post, just know that we’re here to make customers successful, not happy.

But how do you monitor that?

Good question… let’s explore that a bit.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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Determining the Perfect Number of Customer Segments

In Customer Success, customer segmentation should be logical (take a step back and really think about it) and done from the customer point of view (think: Appropriate Experience segmentation) rather than from an internal-focused view (i.e. ARR, revenue potential, etc.).

It’s not about what a customer pays us… it’s about the customer’s appropriate experience.

Let’s dig into this…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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The Difference between Customer Success and Account Management

Customer Success is not Account Management.

In fact, there are 9 things Customer Success is not, and Account Management is one of those things.

Traditional Account Management is old, outdated, and will hurt your relationship with your customers while failing to help them achieve their Required Outcome.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… let’s dig into the difference and why knowing the difference is incredibly important.

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

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The Secret to Defining Customer Success Coverage Models

Customer Success is not Account Management.

This means using traditional Account Management ideas will either limit your (and your customer’s) success… or will cause you your Customer Success initiative to fail miserably.

The traditional 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).

Let’s dig in…

For context, on Friday, May 5, 2017, I did a Customer Success Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Facebook live. It was awesome. The video (audio only… sorry) is embedded below and below that is the transcript (edited for better readability) that answers the question.

[Read more…]

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 well-spent.

If you don’t want to watch or listen, I got the entire AMA transcribed (and cleaned it up a bit for readability, added links, etc.) and posted that below. I answered 20 questions in excruciating detail.

I’m planning on doing another Customer Success AMA on May 19, 2017, on Facebook.

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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 games – that take the customer on a journey to nowhere.

What journey are you mapping? If it’s not the one that takes your customer to their Required Outcome in an Appropriate Way (together, those two things make up the customer’s Desired Outcome), then it’s a map to nowhere for the customer… and to churn for you.

Honestly, from a true Customer Success Management standpoint, we shouldn’t even be talking about maps at all. Instead, we should be talking about something more like a navigation app like Waze that doesn’t just show how to get from static point A to point B, but changes the journey (and ETA!) based on the realities on the ground (current location, traffic, obstacles, the driver simply ignoring directions, etc.).

But for now, we’ll talk “maps”… and here are five fatal flaws of Customer Journey maps; some will only have one of these, others will have all 5. Enjoy.

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

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Do 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 through thousands of customers before it starts to have a negative impact on your growth velocity and costs? I’ll show you why that’s just not true.

If you think churning and burning customers so you can learn is the way to go, sit back and let me tell you a fun little story about an expensive lesson that didn’t need to be learned.

In fact, what I’ll share is why startups need to build-in Customer Success from the ground up, and established companies need to bring Customer Success into their universe ASAP.

First, I have to acknowledge what Steve Blank famously said: “Your startup is essentially an organization built to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”

This means it’s totally accurate to say that, at first, you don’t know what you don’t know.

The problem is that some people use that startup definition as an excuse; a crutch to never have to make a real decision (“we don’t have the data – yet”).

But there are a lot of things you DO know but simply – and to your detriment – choose to ignore.
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Customer Success Goals: Cohorts, Metrics, and Prioritization

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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 some.

A great example of that is the concept of the Customer Success Playbook, the sports analogy-based workflows, processes, interventions, etc. – called “plays” – to run with the customers when something happens.

I haven’t talked about Customer Success Playbooks much, and here’s why.

While there are high-level Customer Success frameworks like those I use with my clients, the way we orchestrate and operationalize a Customer Success-driven Growth strategy is different enough across companies, products, and customer segments, that trying to create a one-size-fits-all Customer Success Playbook that works for all companies is never going to – or should never – happen.

But my lack of coverage of this subject doesn’t mean Customer Success playbooks aren’t important; they absolutely are super-important. They’re so important in fact, that trying to come up with generic ones that would work for any company isn’t something I think can be or should be done! So I’ve avoided talking about it publicly.

A friend of mine asked me for some advice the other day. She knows that I’ve helped hundreds of companies around the world with their Customer Success-driven Growth strategies, but she decided to start by Googling around.

After finding unhelpful posts or forum answers on how to create generic Customer Success playbooks, she came to me.

So I typed up the following for her and since she liked it, I thought I’d share my take on how she should go about creating Customer Success playbooks for her unique situation with you, too.

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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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Understanding Customer Success Management Compensation Models

Understanding Customer Success Management Compensation ModelsWhat’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 performance have on the variable piece of compensation?

The more this comes up, the more I realize – especially when you’re first operationalizing Customer Success Management in your company, but very likely eventually – that when it comes to Customer Success, variable compensation is a red herring.

You’re going to spend a lot of time on it even when you don’t need to. You – and your CSMs – have better things to do than worry about this… like actually making your customers successful.

Let’s dig into this…

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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 the low end; 200 on the high end” weren’t actually helpful.

Then, an ex-CEO-turned-VC with a strong content marketing machine, said a different thing that has, unfortunately, stuck:

“1 CSM per $2M/ARR.”

That’s not accurate, it never was, and it needs to stop being propagated.

Here’s what to do instead…

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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, Executives, and Startup Founders are all looking for rapid, exponential, and efficient growth. And yes, you can actually have all three of those.

In fact, there’s no more efficient – and done correctly, rapid and exponential – growth than growth within and from your existing customer base.

And the key to unleashing the power of this growth engine is Customer Success.

I even wrote a post that illustrates just how much of an impact Customer Success-driven Growth can have not just on Revenue expansion, but literally on the value of your company!

Let’s dig into what Customer Success-driven Growth is…

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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 acquire those churn-offsetting revenue dollars in two ways: by acquiring net new customers or by getting your existing customers to buy more or expand their relationship with you.

For the longest time, companies looked at acquiring new customers as the logical way to offset churn. But at some point, it would occur to them that this was a losing proposition for several reasons, ranging from a longer payback period for Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) to the negative market sentiment created by so much churn.

So the logical next step in offsetting the revenue lost from churn was for vendors to look at getting their existing customers to buy more or to otherwise expand their relationship with them.

But as you’ll see, this doesn’t work, either.

Some people think that having churn – even a lot of churn – is okay as long as they’re making up for it by getting more from the customers that stay.

In fact, I’d say this is one of the biggest – yet least talked about – misconceptions around Customer Success: that you can “use” existing customers to offset whatever churn you have.

It’s time to address this directly so there are no more misconceptions…

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