Why Customer Success Now Demands a Seat at the Table - SmartKarrot

Why Customer Success Now Demands a Seat at the Table

Customer Success is a strategic growth driver that deserves C-Suite attention and a seat at the table.

customer success at the C-level
customer success at the C-level

Customer Success (CS) roles and dedicated CS teams have risen in these last few years. In 2019, there were 40,000 CS job vacancies available in the UK alone, and the number is constantly growing with increasing competition in the SaaS market. So in 2021, it’s time that CS is provided with a seat at the C-suite table and made part of CXO conversations.

Despite all our talks of living in a customer-centric world, ownership of customer experience and value-addition to the user remains vague. A recent survey found that in nearly 1 in 5 companies, no department has clear responsibility for CX. Yet, the various non-product aspects of CX – like onboarding, ease of renewal, support responsiveness, flexible payments, etc. – are inextricably linked to lifetime value. By prioritizing CS, companies can increase profitability per customer while reducing the cost-to-acquire.

  • Most companies introduced a CS team in 2020- 2021. 40% of units right now are 1-2 years old.
  • In addition to profitability for the business, there is a keen focus on sustaining engagement and account health (65%).
  • CS doesn’t work alone. More than 50% of the time is spent collaborating with marketing, customer support, and sales.
  • CS teams report to key business arms of the SaaS organization, typically the Chief Operating Officer (29%) and the Chief Revenue Officer (16%). There’s also an emerging Chief Customer Success Officer in some organizations.

In other words, customer success is widely recognized as an essential pillar for long-term business health and not just part of market adoption or product delivery. Therefore, CXOs must pivot accordingly.

How CXOs Can Prepare for New Age CS Requirements

In conversation with the leading business magazine, Raconteur, a former CCSO, pointed out a fundamental problem with most companies approaching customer success at the C-level. “I’m not a sales guy,” said the CS specialist who prefers not to be named, “When you have customer success in your title, and your job is to reduce costs at any cost, it’s not customer-centric.”Organizations often saddle CS leaders with the same set of expectations as Chief Revenue Officers or Chief Product Officers, despite the very different intentions of CS.

To bridge this divide, CXOs can:

  • Redefine KPIs – CXOs must select KPIs that act as indices for relationship health and potential risk and not the direct value generated for the company.
  • Craft a framework – This framework should define how CS relates to the other arms of your organization and lay down processes for collaboration.
  • Join the community – Several non-profit organizations cater to growing interest and research around CS, including Customer Success Network, Customer Success Forum, and Gain Grow Retain.
  • Use CS software – CS software assigns a quantifiable number to key but intangible elements of customer success like relationships. As a result, it makes it easier to get buy-in.

Customers come for the product but stay for the experience, and without CS, any modern SaaS organization will struggle to grow. That’s why CS requires urgent attention from C-level executives and a seat at the table.

Continue the conversation with me at Arvind@am-pmassociates.com.

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