Gainsight’s Pulse 2018 Customer Success conference gathered over 5,000 industry professionals to share best practices, engage in interactive workshops, discuss latest industry trends and network with peers across industries. The two-day event highlighted the increasing importance of the Customer Success function and its role in retaining and expanding existing customer’s engagement to drive a successful recurring revenue business. While most companies in attendance had Customer Success strategies in place, many were struggling with creating frameworks and processes to deliver Customer Success at scale.
Scaling Customer Success can be difficult as the focus generally starts with few accounts and a high-touch, person-to-person model. As the customer base grows, maintaining the same level of interaction becomes inefficient and ineffective. Enterprises are then challenged to become more targeted through a systematic and proactive approach that delivers the desired customer experience.
Through the various panels, roundtables and company case studies presented at Pulse, three key themes emerged for establishing and scaling the Customer Success capability.
1. Build a Strong Foundation with Clearly Defined Goal and Objectives
Ability to scale the Customer Success function is based on a strong foundation. Organizations need to establish CS goals and objectives (e.g., adoption, retention, expansion) to clearly define the team’s mission within the context of the overall company. Having a well-defined purpose forms the basis for the types of people, processes, and tools that will be leveraged as the organization evolves. Clearly defined goals not only ensure the team is on the same page, but they also help prioritize key activities needed to reach both short- and long-term milestones. As companies start with the basics, they can focus on the areas that will best help them achieve their objectives, bringing on new CSMs and/or adding new tools to the workflow as the organization matures.
2. Segment Customers and for Greater Effectiveness and Efficiency
Effectively delivering value to customers is based on understanding what they need. While it may be possible to deliver individualized, white-glove services to a low volume of accounts, as the company grows this approach becomes almost impossible to sustain. Developing in-depth knowledge around different customer types or segments based on how they use the product, how much they spend, their potential to expand, among other characteristics, allows companies to design and implement tailored plans, touch points, and content. This insight on the customer base maximizes CSM effectiveness and efficiency, allowing them to focus on creating the right content (e.g., specific product training, micro content, webinars, success paths, business reviews, etc.) that will guide different customers or cohorts through the product journey and achieve the desired value.
3. Leverage Data and Metrics to Measure Customer Health and Focus Activity
As the Customer Success team scales, data becomes increasingly important. Measuring customer health through metrics such as Net Promoter Score, CSAT and retention ensures the team is focusing on the right activities and content. Furthermore, creating opportunities for customers to give real-time feedback through the product or through CSM interactions allows the company to understand what activities or processes are working well, where to increase focus and/or what improvements can be made. This data, over time, will allow the company to create benchmarks for customer satisfaction and also provide insight into the team’s ROI.
Building and scaling a Customer Success team is a challenging task. While the themes identified at Pulse represent critical elements of a successful CS organization, they are only part of what it takes to tackle this critical post-sales role. Teams need to balance the desire to grow quickly with the ability to build a strong foundation, understand customer segments and needs, and focus on building the base of important metrics. Talk to customers, find out what is going well and what can be improved, and continue to iterate for improvement.
If you would like to discuss delivering Customer Success at scale in greater detail, please feel free to contact me.
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For advice on how to implement a health scoring mechanism that can proactively identify at-risk customers, check out our Guide to Composite Health Scoring.