Change Management in Customer Success - SmartKarrot Blog

Change Management in Customer Success

Change management in customer success is essential for customer success mangers. Managing change offers customers value and drives product adoption.

Change Management in Customer Success
Change Management in Customer Success

Change management is influencing people to do things in a changed or different manner. Change management in customer success is based on behaviour change. It means teaching people to do things in a better manner. The way to do that is by recognising people on the cusp of change a, helping them, guiding them, and understanding the outcomes. Change is disruptive for anyone. Even if the change is a smart one, there is no guarantee it will lead to success. You need to understand the following aspects-

  • Get an idea of what the change journey looks like
  • Operate across scale and time dimensions in a flexible manner

In fact, as per HBR nearly 75 percent of change efforts fail since there is less value delivered or complete abandonment. That combined with the stress of the pandemic can lead to fatigue. Change creates more work and this makes us be unhappy.

Change Management Framework Models

The Prosci ADKAR Model is the world’s most widely adopted change management framework. You can get results company-wide as change happens to one person at a time. The ADKAR Model will help address customer success issues and adoption. Customer success managers need to have ADKAR to bridge gaps in change management.

A: Awareness of the need for change

D: Desire to support change

K: Knowledge of how to change

A: Ability to demonstrate behaviours and skills

R: Reinforcement to make change actually work

The ADKAR model helps bring about a fundamental change in human behaviour. This helps create a SaaS stickiness that delivers value to customers. The ADKAR journey is something every SaaS company should go through to ensure that customers are in line with the customer success plan chalked out.

Change Management for Customer Success

Every CSM will have to face managing organisational changes. This can include implementing a product-led growth strategy, implementing a new customer success playbook, and processes.  If you get your customers to understand why a certain change is beneficial, it will be helpful in the long run. The change journey for customer success can be put in three main categories:

  • Motivate
  • Enable
  • Reinforce


In this stage, CSMs look to drive awareness for change efforts. This is basically showing customers ‘what’s there in it for them’. Driving change is helpful with the right intention and communication. It is quite hard to drive someone out of their comfort zone and this needs motivation.


In this phase, you need to empower people with the tools they need to help that change become successful. Creating simple ways to understand that change will make it easy for customers. Learning material, support, educational tools, and snippets will help ease the process. Customer success managers need to take the support of marketing and sales team in this regard.


Reinforcement is an effective strategy that drives changes in customer success. Reinforcement is demonstrating the positive effect of that change. This reinforcement helps them continue on that path. This also helps peers adopt that change and creates awareness among others. This helps their change journey and establishes customer success.

Costs and Risks of Poor Change Management in Customer Success

If you are a SaaS company and are skipping change management in your strategy, your chances of finding customer success are bleak. A good change management strategy will help you realise outcomes in large parts.

  • Loss of investment in the project
  • Lack of efficiency in product usage
  • Lost opportunity for the company
  • May reflect on the branding
  • Wastage of resources, training and restructuring efforts

Customer Adoption and Change Management in Customer Success

A simple way to increase adoption to change is by focusing on the people side of things. This is focused on the following-

People and Purpose

People are necessary to accept change. Purpose is what defines the need for change. People need to accept the purpose so that they get the business in its right sense. Assess the reasons for the change and coordinate activities accordingly.


Communicate with the customers about the need for the change. Do a cost benefit analysis if need be. Consider the process and the type of change to ensure these is no ambiguity among parties.

Change management lies on the path to customer success that derives value based on adoption and usage. To understand the nexus between change management, adoption, and customer success, take a look at the chart below.

So change management drives customer success based on product experience and product adoption.

How can Customer Success Managers Facilitate Change Management

Client success managers or customer success managers have a chance to head the change efforts in the company. Change management is when you cannot help your customers directly even though you know they are struggling. There are some best practices customer success managers can use to influence customers to succeed during change situations.

  • Identify the major stakeholders
  • Communicate with customers, stakeholders
  • Excite customers about the change
  • Help clients demonstrate wins or value to create ripples or momentum
  • Share stories or testimonials by showcasing the experience customers have
  • Confirm the potential value of this change to customers
  • Drive adoption by capturing value

Adoption is more than just sharing technical deployment, information and training. It means helping users change their behaviour or process that they have been used to. This is what customer success managers need to keep in mind. Monitor how customers are using the product and find ways to keep the product on their mind. This will help the process and product get ingrained in the minds of the people.

Bottom Line

Every company goes through changes. However, adapting customers to a new process or a revamped one is change in itself. This is what needs to be empowered for killer transformations. By measuring how customers react to the product, educating them, forming a habit loop, and creating a customer-centric culture will help drive better results.

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