Assessing the State of Customer Success

By Natalie Macks

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When building a new customer success team, starting a new CSM position, or simply taking stock for the next fiscal year, it's important to take a look at the existing environment of customer success in your company. At a business level, customer success ultimately refers to the ability to not only retain but also expand revenue. To achieve this goal you’ll want to take a comprehensive look at the customer journey to identify those areas that are successful as well as those that could use some attention.

Do Your Homework

In addition to the standard customer success metrics (see my colleague Jeremy's post on the Math of Customer Success) you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Voice of the Customer (VOC) Data - NPS, satisfaction surveys, product feedback
  • Customer Support Data - wait times, response times, top issues
  • Sales Data - customer handoff, onboarding times, common objections
  • Feature requests - top requests, backlog
  • Engineering Issues - bugs, downtime, incident reporting issues
  • Customer Marketing Efforts - post-sale communication, content focus, product updates communication issues, survey fatigue
  • Billing Issues
  • Training Resources
  • Website Resources

You don’t need to get into the nitty-gritty detail just yet. Look for overall trends and recurring pain points.

Recognize Successes

Every company has its areas of strength, and I’d argue that it’s possible to find at least one example where each and every department does well by the customer.  Make careful note of these victories. When interacting with folks from other departments you'll be equipped to start the conversation on a positive note by bringing up examples of ways that they are providing an amazing customer experience. There’s a good chance you’ll smooth the path for future discussions about possible improvements.

Set Expectations

You may identify a whole lot of things that need attention. Set the bar high, but don’t take on more than you can reasonably accomplish. If you are new to your role, identify a high-impact, quick win that will help you set the stage. Then pick some smaller tasks that can be accomplished over the next year on a quarterly basis and a few larger goals that will take the entire year. These larger goals should have some sort of associated revenue, if possible, to highlight their value. Also consider the resources that you’ll need in terms of time and budget to accomplish these goals.

Get Internal Buy-In

Addressing customer success concerns often involves working with other departments across your organization. Identify individuals who are best positioned to help you accomplish your goals. If possible make sure that they include shared projects on their quarterly or annual goals. Agree up front on an appropriate schedule for updating or meeting to gauge progress.

Consider Scalability

You may notice that many customer success issues involve hand off points with customer data between departments or the customer themselves. Think about customer success as a way of safeguarding these handoffs of information to ensure that they happen in a consistent, timely, and customer friendly manner. Don’t just solve problems for today for one customer. Consider volume and future growth at every step of the customer journey.

Make a Plan

Once you've identified key issues you can start taking a look at what the customer success team can do to craft a better client experience and ensure revenue expansion. Don’t be afraid to delegate when possible. Break larger issues into smaller subtasks, and associate a time-frame with each step. Identify any potential roadblocks. Book any necessary meetings, both one-offs and recurring. Plan to include updates on goal process in any regular meetings you have with your boss.

Ready, set, and go! Onward to success, both in your professional career and to the benefit of your customers. 

The Success League is a consulting firm that works with executives who are ready to build and develop a top performing customer success team. We offer a comprehensive customer success assessment package - call for details.  www.TheSuccessLeague.io

Natalie Macks - Natalie builds a culture of dedicated customer evangelists, as well as the systems and processes required for success. Her award-winning leadership expertise coupled with integrity and passion produce increased customer retention and generate revenue. Natalie's work with The Success League focuses on creating an amazing, but scalable client experience. With over 15 years in customer-facing roles, Natalie excels in bridging the gap between business technologies and the user experience.  She holds a BA from Michigan State University and resides in San Francisco, CA.