Customer-centric Growth by Lincoln Murphy

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.

Number One Customer Success Mistake

Richard has a question. “What’s the number one mistake large/old tech companies make when shifting to customer success?”

Richard says, “What is the number one mistake old tech companies have … ? Just existing tech companies have when moving to customer success. It’s not just something shared by old tech companies.

It’s something every single company that is either moving to customer success or bringing customer success in. That is not focusing on the customer’s desired outcome. I sound like a broken record or a YouTube video on loop, but the reality is that’s it.

What I mean by that is if you focus only on churn … Say we have a churn problem and we need to get rid of that. Okay, cool. You can go try to fight the symptom that is churn, but understand that churn is just a symptom of an underlying disease.

That disease is that our customers are not achieving their Desired Outcome.

We want to focus on expansion.

We don’t have a lot of churn.

We want to make sure our customers are buying more, that they’re staying longer, that they’re expanding their relationship with us, that they’re advocating for us.

All those things that we want are all predicated on our customers achieving their Desired Outcome.

Without that, none of this matters.

The first thing you have to do … Believe me, I have this … I don’t want to say it’s an argument, but I have this discussion with my clients all the time.

They’re like, “Okay, we have this thing we want to do.” I’m like, “Okay, cool, what is the customer’s desired outcome?” Maybe we have to even start a little bit earlier, “Who is your customer? What is your ideal customer?” It all starts with the customer.

They say, “No, no, no. We want to bust churn.” I’m like, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. You have to figure out what the customer’s desired outcome is and go from there.”

Everything we want to do in Customer Success comes from there.

Everything we want to do in terms of how we operationalize, the coverage levels, everything you need to know, the software that we buy.

All that is predicated on our customer’s Desired Outcome.

We don’t know that … You can do stuff. Obviously, people are doing stuff, but I don’t understand what people are operationalizing around.

I don’t understand what you’re doing in your customer success operations if you don’t understand the desired outcome of your customer.

Obviously, you can do it, but I’m not sure what you’re doing. I think you probably don’t either.

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