As the leader of a Customer Experience/Customer Success department, you get a lot of 'You're the guy who has to make sure that are customers happy’. While I like the idea of happy customers (Who doesn’t?), this is not how I would describe the
job. A focus on an abstract sentiment like ‘happiness’ deflects attention from the more important challenge for a Customer Success Manager — making sure customers stay customers.
You can have extremely happy customers, who love everything you do, love what your brand stands for, and appreciate the kind of service they get from your department. This doesn't necessarily guarantee that they will sign a renewal contract unless you can prove that the product is delivering the kind of value that they were expecting when they first brought you on board.
Here are some of the questions that I get asked most often. These are not just by people within my organization who are trying to understand what the Customer Success department does, but by customers themselves. I think it is important to drive clarity with the responses — not just about my role, but about what I believe is a philosophy that involves every aspect of a Customer-Centric organization.
What does Customer Success mean?
It means doing everything you can to make sure your existing customers continue to stay customers. Happy customers aren't necessarily loyal customers. If this sounds contradictory, it's only because it shifts focus from happiness towards what a customer really wants: Return on their Investment (ROI). For me, true customer success is being able to prove that a customer gets what they paid for.
It is also important to remember that ROI is not static. Customer teams and their associated objectives evolve over time. Customer Success is strategic and we need to partner in order to understand what customers are trying to accomplish next and, ideally, make sure that our solution can get them there.
Doesn't this make Customer Success sound like a philosophy?
It is a philosophy — and it needs to be a company-wide philosophy. If Customer Success is nothing more than a department, the program will fail. We make it a belief system that involves every department, from sales and marketing to product, each of which has the mandate to prioritize ROI for our customers. When this is done right — and it can take a while to get everyone on board — it allows an organization to align its goals with those of its customers.
All we want, at the end of the day, is to make sure that our customers can justify a renewal to their CFO. We do this by making sure their company has achieved value from their initial investment with us and that we continue to align with their evolving needs.
How should an organization approach Customer Success?
NexJ does it by first understanding its value proposition and then turning it into demonstrable ROI for customers.
The sales team will be looking to solve a problem or set or problems for our customers but the company needs to be prepared to offer value at every stage of our customers' journey. This also affects our marketing department, which is tasked with defining where our product is placed and spreading the word about how we achieve ROI for customers. It affects our product team, which is tasked with putting mechanisms in place that allow us to report on active use in a way that our customers can tie directly to ROI.
What all of this does is shift our focus from company growth to the success of our customers.
When is a Customer Success department successful?
I would say the process begins when an organization starts treating all departments as extensions of a Customer Success mandate. NexJ is very clear about the outcome of what it wants to achieve for customers as well as our criteria for success. We take growth seriously, of course, but spend more time understanding what our customers want out of our product and then doing everything in our power to ensure they get it.
We say 'Business is about relationships' because we believe it. We build relationships with customers by aligning our product to their goals. This also helps us in the long run, making us a healthier, more customer success-driven organization.
Customer Success is harder to pull off than one thinks because its role goes far beyond the purview of a single department. To find out more about how we do it here at NexJ, get in touch with us. We really do like seeing everyone — not just our customers — happy.