Driving value in Customer Success Management
on 6th April, 2017
All across the high technology industry and well beyond it, a new and vital role is being established and developed. The job goes by many names: Customer Success Manager, Client Advocate and so on. However, regardless of the label, it’s about customer relationship retention and optimization. And, the most effective way to keep your customers is to make them as successful as possible in using your product or service.
Definition and Scope
If your business depends upon continuing income streams from its customers, the choice is becoming clear. You either actively manage your customer relationships as a strategic portfolio asset or you effectively cede control over them and your company’s future to enter into a competition. Customer acquisition is only the very first step in what must be a long-term, scientifically engineered, and professionally directed strategy.
The emerging role is about providing a solution to the core issues of customer portfolio development, retention and expansion. Customer Success Management is an integration of functions and activities of Marketing, Sales, Technical Services, Training and Support to meet the needs of recurring revenue for a company. There are three necessary building blocks for this emerging profession: an in-depth knowledge of the customers, effective knowledge of the product/service being sold, and extensive domain expertise. The ultimate strategic goal of the Customer Success role is to sustain corporate profitability and growth. The method is to make your customers as profitable and productive as possible.
Mission of Customer Success Organization Managers
The daily activities of the members of a Customer Success team can vary widely, depending on the breadth of their areas defined. For example, a CSO group that is dedicated only to reacting to threats or warnings from the customer may spend all their time in trying to persuade customers not to shift their base to other companies. To be successful, the CSO team should realize that the earlier the team addresses the issue of maintaining sustainable customer relations, the more effective they can be and the less it will cost. The diagram below showcases engagement of the team and expansion of their activities.
The operational role of a fully realized Customer Success Management team includes participation in technology product design to create the tools that your customers need. It is about working with Marketing to find the right kinds of leads, the ones that Sales team can bring into the company to become first-tier high-value assets. Through onboarding and training, the CSM group ensures that all customers are fully engaged and getting the value that they expect. At every point, the team collects, analyzes and then uses data to make the customers’ experience of the company a seamless, consistent whole.
From Customer Success Definition to Design
The above definition has substantial implications and effects for the new profession. Effective, fully capable CSM groups are not built in a day. It’s going to take at least a year, and probably two just to establish the foundation for the team. Then the real work begins, to extend and fully develop into a core strategic unit of the company.
Customer Success Group at KloudData
To achieve our goals, we have divided the team into 3 different groups –
- Professional Services: Responsibilities include developing projects, initial implementation, and any kind of add-on afterwards. This team is structured regionally to support customers that they are close to.
- Technical Support: This team maintains the stability or the ability of the product/service performance — this team is divided into a fairly traditional structure by levels of support — L1, L2, L3, L4, etc.
- Customer Program Success Management: Maintains the business relations between KloudData and its customers. This team is structured with the objective of providing support for any grievances, requirements, pain points, and acts as a bridge between the customer and the company as a whole.
KEYS TO SUCCESS FOR A CUSTOMER SUCCESS ORGANIZATION
- Define the Responsibilities within Customer Success
- Focus on Long-Term Value, Not Immediate Opportunity
- Be Proactive and Create Opportunities for Customer Engagement
KloudData’s Customer Success Team executes three levels of ongoing customer communication to more proactively diagnose issues or opportunities before they become bigger obstacles:
- Ad-hoc Interactions: Phone, email, or on-site engagement whenever a technical need or issue arises that hadn’t previously been discussed.
- Customer Day: Interactions between KloudData project managers and customers to discuss user experience, product issues, or product enhancement suggestions.
- Quarterly Management Reviews: Designed more for probable customers or taking stock of existing customers. Discussions are framed mostly towards efforts driven at meeting the deliverables and understanding or focusing on any requirements and evolving methods to project them.
The Bottom Line:
Customer Success isn’t about you, it’s about them!