Five Steps to the CREST of Success
Success… every company delivering Software-as-a-Service wants to achieve it. And there is a rapidly growing, now almost overwhelming awareness in the industry that customers – and their success – are perhaps the most critical components of our own.
But with all of the moving parts faced by both new and established customer success teams – from service offerings to support metrics to account staffing to product usage to customer lifecycles and on – it’s easy to lose track of how that success is truly measured within our own organizations, and the basic building blocks that comprise its achievement.
To stay focused, I use this simple mnemonic to zero in each day, each task, on the five outcomes that matter to most to our business:
Convert – Engage free accounts and turn them into paying customers.
Retain – Keep customers happy and successful… keep recurring revenue!
Expand – Raise the value of the customer base with upgrades and add-ons.
Scale – Deliver exceptional customer experience efficiently as the base grows.
Triumph – Don’t just succeed among others. Be distinctive, do it right, emerge victorious!
Of course, these are no small feat. Each of these tasks is complex and challenging, with a science all its own and a lot of skill needed to deliver. But I find having the right tools and the right frame of reference is key to moving the needle in all of these areas, keeping them in balance, and ultimately improving my company’s bottom line.
While these five critical components of your company’s success should be front of mind for you every day, be careful not to get your wires crossed. SaaS company success and SaaS customer success, though closely intertwined, are not the same thing. If you ask one of your customers whether they are feeling successful because they have converted from a free to a paid subscription for your software, or because they have leveraged self-service resources and helped keep your costs down, I imagine – I hope – that they would hang up the phone on you and maybe even cancel their plan.
To me, the beauty of a good Customer Success practice is that it’s a two-way street, just like all of the best, healthiest relationships I know. Your customers will only help you achieve your business objectives if you and your software help them achieve their desired goals. And you’ll only be able to offer them your product and services if your organization is healthy and attaining its financial milestones. You can ensure that your company and your customers are happily in the same boat together by explicitly modeling customer outcomes (e.g. retention or expansion) that correlate directly to the goals your customers are trying to reach.
As I’ve regularly told team members that I’ve led: “I hope that you joined this team as a Customer Success Manager because you care about how successful our solution is making our customers. But I know that you’ll only flourish as a Customer Success Manager if you measure yourself by how successful our team is making our company.”
Keep this in mind, and you, your team, and your company can rise to the CREST of success! (And stay tuned for more on defining the right customer outcomes to get there in an upcoming post.)
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