Customer Success | 5 MIN READ

Customer Success is Not Just Account Management

Customer success is a means of making sure that the desired outcomes your customers have been reached when they use your products or services.

Rakhin V
Dec 21, 2019

Customer Success

“Customer success” has become one of the business’ biggest buzzwords. While other business terminology comes and goes throughout the years, this is one that isn’t likely to disappear. In fact, regardless of your brand, customer success is one of its most important factors. It’s basically the difference between your company losing it all or going totally viral, so to speak.

Customer Success

What is Customer Success?

Customer success is a means of making sure that the desired outcomes your customers have been reached when they use your products or services. Where account management focuses on the success of accounts, customer success focuses on relationships – those between you and your customers, specifically. Creating an effective and efficient strategy for customer success can result in less customer churn and more upselling opportunities.

Why focusing on customer success matters

Have you ever used a product that you absolutely loved? One that actually gave the same results the brand said it would? It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. And it happens because that brand took to heart what its customers desired in such a product.

After all, it comes down to the success of your customers when using your products. How can you assist your customers and make sure they succeed with your product? First, you have to discover when they use it, why they use it, and how they use it. This information is a requirement of customer success, and to have a truly successful program, you must:

  • Implement technology
  • Obtain real-time vision into the “health” of your customers
  • Adopt metrics and processes throughout your company

These three steps are proactive, rather than reactive. Account managers tend to respond to issues, whereas customer success managers greet customers. In the evolution of business, customer success management is far superior to account management because:

  • It highlights issues and opportunities
  • Informs your current and future strategies
  • Help you understand your customers and their journeys better
  • Offers insight into customer retention strategies

Armed with the required knowledge of those customers, previous issues become a thing of the past. The customer and the company reap the rewards.

The Role of Customer Success Managers

Customer service managers, or CSMs, can see various responsibilities depending on the company or industry they work within. Whether you’re just beginning and your startup doesn’t even have support agents yet, or you’re with an enterprise-level software company, you have certain responsibilities, such as:

  • Creating clear and measurable metrics and goals with milestones that both you and your customer work towards
  • Improve the speed at which your customers receive the value in your product or service by ensuring swift and accurate onboarding and product execution
  • Offer educational resources, training opportunities, and provide best practices
  • Illustrate your product’s deeper value by encouraging greater adoption of features
  • Generate more revenue by encouraging renewals or upselling added features
  • Put together all customer feedback and get it out to all your teams, company-wide
  • Create brand ambassadors of your greatest fans

How Do You Implement Customer Success Management?

There are several steps to start building a fantastic customer success program in your company.

Identify what your customer hopes to accomplish

Why does your customer need what you’re providing? The answers you come up with help you build customer personas, which allow you to further segment your audience and organize your customers according to their desired outcome.

After you’ve done this step, then:

  • Choose your customer success management team
  • Choose software or other tools that can help you perform the necessary tasks
  • With the input of your team, design a map to success

With the above information, draw up a map of your customers’ journeys. Along this road, there are several instances where you can make an impact. At which point do your potential buyers face challenges? Are their challenges financial or product-specific? Decide what you can do at each hurdle to help your customers make a purchasing decision that makes them happy. If you’re unsure how to go about this, consider these questions to help you determine your actions:

  • What is the best outcome at each leg of the customer journey, for you and for the customer?
  • What would be most beneficial for customers at every step?
  • Does your service or product fall short at any point? What can you do to strengthen your offerings?
  • Is there a point on the journey where your competitors could influence your potential buyers?
  • How can you track those customers who are dissatisfied at any point in the journey?

Finally, determine the metrics you’ll use to measure customer satisfaction and unhappiness. As you progress, make small changes. Tweak your customer journey map, product or service offerings, or approach one step at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers during their journey or make your company appear to lack direction.

Why Account Management is Just a Small Piece of the Customer Success Puzzle

Customer success boils down to your company truly understanding your customers. Customer success managers have a unique position – they’re constantly in contact with your potential customers. Because of this, this team knows your customers better than any other department in the whole company. CSMs understand customer goals and hurdles, as well as how your company can offer solid value to the brand/customer relationship.

Any feedback your CSMs receive should be utilized in all decision-making activities throughout the company. You can use this information to shape customer profiles, optimize your pricing, and even determine the product or service features your company should offer next.

Bottom line – your CSMs are the in-office voice of your customers and they can provide all departments with the ability to proactively respond to the needs of your potential buyers.

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Originally Published December 21st, 2019, Updated September 7th, 2020

Rakhin V

Rakhin has over 10 years of experience driving business development and client services. In his prior roles, he stayed close to customers to understand their requirements and help them achieve their business goals. He is passionate about customer success.

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2 years ago

Terry Hornby

Very informative article, I enjoyed reading it! Something else I do to ensure success is allowing the customer to put forth ideas which everyone else can upvote or downvote. This allows me to see what customers would like to see and from there, we can work on getting it added. It’s important that the customer feels like they are important and can have an impact. This has been working well for us for many years now.

2 years ago

Simon Lashley

I totally agree with everything here, customer success is not going away and you need to focus on it. I hired a customer success manager to create guides, implement meaningful analytics, and gather feedback from all available channels. I now have a clearer view of who is using my service and how, and as a team we can all make the product better.

2 years ago

Callum Highway

These are really good steps towards achieving customer success, something that should be handled by a dedicated team as you mention. It’s not just a side job to be worked on a little bit, it’s important. Aside from the customers themselves, CSMs are the heart of any business I think.

2 years ago

Keith U.

I’ve had the great experience you mention and it really is down to a reactive customer success team. Now that I run my own business, I’m trying to emulate that same satisfaction for my customers. You really have understand their needs and not just collectively. When you do, you can build several paths which will hopefully lead to their success.

2 years ago

Travis Moon

Customer success has become really important since the term was made. Businesses need to be proactive about customers these days, the experience is everything and with competition at every corner, you can’t be slacking. The CSM role is one that needed to be made and should help all businesses create a better journey for the customer.

1 year ago

Demystifying the role of Customer Success - SmartKarrot

[…] Account management is also reactive as a function. Although, they share similar goals with a customer success team, account managers are more focussed on the renewals, upsells, cross-sells, etc. The effort of the account managers is only to ensure that the customer’s stay subscribed and not really on them getting maximum value from the product.  […]

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