If you’re pursuing an account-based growth strategy, you should consider ‘customer success’ as part of your approach. Customer success is a growing B2B movement that involves shifting the orientation of your company from your products and sales to a focus on helping your key customers achieve their goals.
First coined in the software (SaaS) industry, customer success can be defined as customer experience plus customer outcomes. It became big business when Salesforce realised it had to tackle churn and retention more than 15 years ago and now it’s permeating almost all industry sectors.
Achieving customer success is about providing your customer with a roadmap of what to do and helping them see that transformation through. It recognises the link between what a supplier delivers and what the customer achieves; with suppliers taking on more risk and customers rewarding suppliers who create more value.
Delivering customer success effectively, and at pace, requires a combination of skills from strategic and visionary people who can knit together solutions and operational teams who can work with customers to bring about change in their organisation. More than likely this will involve combining products and services from across an ecosystem to deliver a customised solution that will enable your customer to achieve better business outcomes.
However, no organisation, whatever its size, will have unlimited resources, so you’ll need to make tough choices and focus where you are most likely to achieve the strongest results. Here’s five points to consider when developing your customer success approach:
- The Chief Customer Officer is becoming more prevalent and may overtake the equally topical Chief Revenue Officer as a new C-suite entrant. They need a holistic, well-informed view of best practices across all customer-facing teams.
- Customer success needs to be a company-wide commitment with broad agreement around the prioritisation of customers into tiers for high-touch, mid-touch, or tech-touch support.
- Learn from companies like Salesforce who have revealed how ‘high-touch’ they have become in relation to their most important customers — charting a move to a more consulting-led approach and partnering with a broader ecosystem for the benefit of their customers.
- Outside of the software industry, service operations are focusing on outcomes over outputs. This underlines the importance of recognising which customers get a service beyond contractual promises and emphasises the need for high-quality resources, and better communications.
- Familiarise yourself with the so-called ‘Ten Laws of Customer Success’ created by Nick Mehta (The Customer Success Economy (2020: 301)).
You can read more about developing a customer success strategy in Account-Based Growth by Bev Burgess and Tim Shercliff, published by Kogan Page here. Or read more articles, viewpoints and case studies at https://inflexiongroup.com/resources/.