- A. A fancy name for their Tech Support
- B. Renewals and Upsell sales team
- C. Professional Services and Deployment
- D. All the above
Caveat alert. Customer Success is a new function and we all owe a debt of gratitude to those who pioneered the original approaches. I am sure I don’t fully understand the details or nuances of these approaches and how they are addressing the Customer Success need. I am also not trying to say that they are wrong, we just reached a different conclusion.
Is this Customer Success or Vendor Success?
- Sustainable Differentiation: lots of companies are good at a lot of things. Is that why customers buy their products? Not Really. Companies are successful when they offer a capability to the market that other companies are not offering and can not easily replicate. At new hire training I ask “why do you think customers buy our solution?” I write down all of their answers, “We reduce cost! We are innovative! We can Scale! We simplify their operations! We have good relationships! We buy them beer and give free T Shirts!” I then select one of their previous employers and use those exact terms to describe their product. For example, Webex, Veritas, Dell, VMWare, Avaya, Microsoft, etc all say they are. innovative, reduce cost, etc. At the end of the day, it isn’t what we are good at, it is what are we sustainably differentiated at? Why else would customers pay a premium for us?
- Exec Coach
- When you need to move fast and be consistent – SIMPLIFY. You can do all the training and have all the tools in the world but they will never be more effective than removing the complexity in the first place. Kinda like Zscaler Private Access vs. traditional hub and spoke networks. (Yup – a shameless plug! We gotta pay the bills somehow!)
- Critical Accounts – Escalation
- “The Change Function”: The early days of VOIP and Video over data networks are not well remembered for their 99.999% quality and uptime. The ‘negative business impact’ was enormous. For example, in one hospital emergency room a patient had a heart attack and when the Nurse tried to use her WiFi VoIP phone to call a doctor it deregistered and failed. The patient passed away. Heck – most companies a decade later still can’t get Skype to work consistently. If it was so bad why did Customers stuck with it when they had perfectly fine copper phone lines?
- Support and Satisfaction: Support organizations often tout their Customer Satisfaction scores. We are a 4.4 out of 5! Our customers are 96% satisfied! I don’t know about you, but when I have to call customer support it is not because I am satisfied. No one is ’satisfied’ when they have to open a case.
- The Best Man in Your Wedding
- Ever wonder what the difference is between your hundreds of friends/acquaintances and your Best Man, “Bro”, or Maid of Honor? I believe it is spelled out well in a famous poem called footprints. This applies to your customers as well. When they have a major problem, are you there for them even when it isn’t your fault or responsibility? Do you stand by them in their time of need?
Adapted Version: One night a man had a dream. He dreamed He was walking along the beach with his “Bro”. Across the sky flashed scenes from His life. For each scene He noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to Him and the other to his “Bro”.
When the last scene of His life flashed before Him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of His life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of His life.
This really bothered Him and He questioned his “Bro” about it. Hey man, you said that once I decided to hang with you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would bail on me like that.
Dude chill, I Love ya, and I would never leave you hanging! During your times of trial and suffering when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.
- Sales Engineering
- Architectural Control Points: When your sustainable differentiation aligns well to solving your Customers’ Business Objectives then not only do you provide a smooth path to adoption/expansion you are also well positioned defensively against your competitors. At Cisco if we had Call Manager installed and owned call control then it was just a matter of time until the customer would purchase a new phone handset for every employee.
- Market Messaging: coming from the pre-sales side I had a good handle on our corporate value prop and what customers wanted in our POC. When customers buy a solution they not only buy today’s technology but your vision for the future. The post sales experience should map to this market messaging vocabulary, terms, etc. Too often post sales teams invent their own lexicon.
- Start with the Customer/Outcome and Work Backwards
- If you take all the ’stuff’ you did previously in renewals, sales, support, professional services, etc and try to combine it all into Customer Success in a bottoms up approach you will end up with a very comprehensive but likely overly complex approach. However, if you put the primary focus on the customer and work backwards it is amazing how much simpler and more robust your solution will be.
A New Customer Success Model
Now lets overlay the concept of EXPERIENCE
(user experience, quality, results)
- Clippy: poor user experience, crap quality, and it definitely didn’t help me write a letter.
- Wireless: Can you hear me nooooooow? Nuff said.
- Gasoline: fueling at the pump is usually pretty quick and easy so the user experience is ok, gasoline makes our cars go vroom vroom (results) and for quality… when was the last time you had bad gas? (Pun intended).
- iPhone: my grandmother can use it (experience), I can’t remember the last time it crashed (quality), and it makes calls (results).
Next lets overlay the concept of TRANSFORMATION.
- Clippy: 10x the annoyance… not value
- Gasoline: no real Transformation – it has been working the same way for a hundred years
- Wireless: I can receive a call anywhere!? I can leave the office and take a call while catching my kids baseball game?! Cool!
- iPhone: Candy Crush. Nuff said.
How does this apply to Customer Success, Renewals, Upsell, Churn?
Note: I couldn’t find the original source for the matrix below but someone smart out there made it. Probably someone from McKinsey – they love 4×4 matrices.
- Clippy: not only is he crap, I am going to tell everyone he is crap.
- Gasoline: if your competitor offers me gas 1 cent cheaper you are fired and I will go to them
- Wireless: since I can make calls anywhere and use it in an emergency I will give you an opportunity to improve your service over time but I will not be buying more lines for my family and getting rid of my landline.
- iPhone: I will not only spend 10x compared to my old Nokia but I will also buy an AppleTV, iTunes, Mac and read fanboy websites about upcoming product leaks. I don’t think Apple is trying to shake me down for $$. I *want* to buy more things from them.
We are missing one key factor though… ENGAGEMENT
Translate TRANSFORMATION, ENGAGEMENT, EXPERIENCE into a Customer Success Model
- Identify what your TRANSFORMATIONAL 10x value to customers is. Collaborate with your pre-sales team and marketing
- Identify what an amazing EXPERIENCE would look like
- Learn who/how your customer wants to ENGAGE
- SECURITY: protect and apply business policies to 100% of user traffic anywhere regardless of encryption
- NETWORK: transition from expensive private hub and spoke networks, the internet becomes your corporate network
- APP ACCESS: trusted users can access trusted applications with nothing bad in between
- QUALITY: means never having to open a case/ticket/bug in the first place
- EXPERIENCE: 100% of end users able experience our solution transparently and apps just ‘work better’,
- RESULTS: achieved the costs savings you expected, kept the bad out and the good in
- We meet on a scheduled cadence with the network, security, application, and executive team to “Make the news” not “Report the news”.
When a Customer purchases our service they are coming with Business Objectives, themselves (contacts) and an existing architecture (environment). They purchased us because they want to TRANSFORM their network, security, and/or application access. To achieve this we will ENGAGE with them in a process to make this happen and endeavor to ensure a world class EXPERIENCE. We are able to measure all of these outcomes quantitatively to track our mutual progress.
3 thoughts on “Customer Success – An Argument Against the LAER Model”
Great article and nice insights.
an excellent article – thank you