I’ve been battling more and more misconceptions when it comes to Customer Success than the fewer that I expected.
I assumed as Customer Success became more well-received, moved more into the mainstream, and simply became more common that we’d all agree more on things… not less.
I was wrong.
I was WAY wrong.
Your Customer Success Worldview
The “Customer Success” universe has become more and more fragmented, not less and less.
When you say “Customer Success” the frame that’s invoked may be one of Account Management, something that’s software-focused, a worldview based solely on customer delight, or it may fit with what I’ve defined Customer Success to be.
Or it may be a mix of all of those things combined together in some Frankenstein way that works for you but no one else… or for everyone. Who knows.
In my self-reflective quest to break out of this “fight” I took a step back and tried to examine the source of all of these different understandings of Customer Success.
While I found many reasons for these varying views on Customer Success (not the least of which is that the leading voices on the subject are still software vendors trying to sell a product), one thing really stood out.
In fact, this is one discovery may just completely change your Customer Success worldview.
Are you ready for it?
Stop Shoving Customer Success into Existing Frameworks
The one thing that just kept coming up again and again was people trying to shove Customer Success into existing frameworks that they’re already familiar with.
If you want to move your Customer Success initiative forward in a big way, you must stop trying to fit Customer Success into existing frameworks.
To be blunt: you need to get out of your own way if you want to be successful… not just in Customer Success, but everything (life, too, probably).
Trying to work within your existing biases or limited worldview will only get you so far.
When people tell me – and more have recently than I EVER expected – “Customer Success just doesn’t work,” inevitably this was at least part of the reason.
To understand why that is, let’s level-set briefly…
Just what IS Customer Success?
Customer Success is when your customers achieve their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your company.
Customer Success is an Operating Philosophy for your company.
Customer Success Management is an Operating Model for your company.
Customer Success is a Growth Engine if you operationalize accordingly.
Desired Outcome is what your customer needs to achieve (Required Outcome, RO) and the way they need to achieve that (Appropriate Experience, or AX).
But… so much of the confusion around Customer Success is people not actually trying to understand it, but rather trying to force it into a box created by their existing biases and/or agenda.
This isn’t an argument against the…
Use of Frameworks in Customer Success
This is an argument against trying to shove Customer Success into existing frameworks (this should be clear by now).
When it comes to existing frameworks and Customer Success, you can…
- visualize responsibility using a matrix like RACI, RAM, or LRC
- prioritize using RICE – Reach, Impact, Confidence, Effort
- use BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model to discover AX (or use mine, if you want)
- use JTBD or Jobs to be Done to discover the customer’s RO (just RO, not AX… be careful)
- co-opt Agile and Scrum methodologies to improve collaboration and flexibility
- repurpose IT governance frameworks like ITIL or COBIT for process engineering
- run a SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – analysis, Red Team, or other “Pen Test” methods to spot weakness
- apply Strategic Selling, Challenger Sale, or SPIN Selling to renewals and expansion (upsells, cross-sells, etc.)
- leverage AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action – for writing better engagement copy
- use NPS – Net Promoter Score – or C-Sat (Customer Satisfaction surveys) to figure out whether your customer is “satisfied” (that speaks to the AX, BTW)
- analyze the state of the customer base using Customer Health Score or Success Vector KPIs
I’m sure there are many, many other frameworks you can apply to Customer Success that I haven’t listed.
And you absolutely can and should use existing frameworks and methodologies WITH Customer Success.
But you can’t go the other way and try to shove this huge, business-changing concept into any existing framework.
It doesn’t work like that.
It won’t work like that.
It literally can’t work like that.
Customer Success is too Important
Customer Success is too big of a concept, it permeates too much of the company, and it is far too important to try to fit into some existing framework.
Remember this when you see people who are already fully-invested in existing frameworks (or who created said frameworks) jumping on the Customer Success bandwagon.
Many of them have good intentions (but if we’re honest, some are just a bullshit money grab in the Customer Success gold rush), but their lack of broad vision when it comes to real Customer Success could cause you to go down the wrong path if you’re not careful.
Maybe – just maybe – this can help you avoid some of the confusion around Customer Success and will help you make 2018 the best year ever!