You can look at it as the new role that is quickly replacing the traditional role of customer support.

This new change is lead by the software as a service “SaaS” industry after realizing that a substantial percentage of their customers are either not really using the software solution they bought from them, or not using it to its full potential.

In both cases the solution would not bring a good return on investment and the customer would, almost certainly churn! Remember our good old friend CRM Software?

So what to do?

Concentrate less on the Software licensing & technical implementation part and shift our focus towards the service part of “as a service”!

Funnily enough, many software companies still look at it as a mere license or: “Rights to Access” but that is not a real service, or is it ?

A good way to implement customer success is to ensure these two important goals are achieved as early as possible in the life-cycle of that engagement / contract:

  1. The software solution is an exact fit for the purpose it was purchased for by that specific customer and that it will help them get to where they want to be! (This means that we must involve the customer success team as early as the pre-sales stage, to learn as much as possible about the customer’s business & environment, create possible partnerships and ensure we address the main problem or issue that our solution is supposed to solve.)
  2. Now that we have provided the right tool, we also need to ensure that everyone within that organization (everyone who is a user of our software) knows how to get the maximum benefit out of it to fulfill their departmental, organizational and even personal objectives!

This is where most of the fun is 🙂 It’s where the experience and the personality of the customer success manager or consultant can make all the difference. This part isn’t all a technical one, it is more about people, process and managing change!

To me that is what makes the role very exiting, it gives me a chance to interact with many different people within the organization (Or in case of e-government: members of the public) and help them become more efficient in what they do, address or solve their issues. There is a lot of learning but it is no longer a one way street, I love to learn from my customers, it makes me better and brings fresh ideas to the mix.

Let’s have a customer success Example:

  • A bank buys licenses to a SaaS learning management system and e-learning courses to train & certify its 500 employees on anti money laundering laws and regulations.

In the older style service & support, the vendor’s team would just do the technical implementation, make sure all is up and running and just introduce the system to some of the the bank’s employees (menu based familiarization) and leave. If the system does not have any glitches and the customer does not complain or request support, that would be a done job!

The customer success way:

  • We start with a pre-launch meeting to make sure that we have the support and blessing from the top management and agree on the main goals that need to be achieved by the end of this 12 months engagement as well as the expectations

(Our goal in this example would be to have all 500 employees, “Anti-money laundering certified” before or by the end of the 12 months)

What is

Here, the customer success team will be working to make sure that all the 500 employees are taking the online course, not only that but they are passing the test and getting certified! We work with them and (with the help of the management) motivate them to complete it as early as possible + encourage them not to leave it to month 11 !

  • We create a joint project team of success champions (from both the vendor and customer’s employees) that is responsible to achieve that above goal.
  • We create a clear action plan with milestones and assigned tasks where each member of that project team knows what to do, when to do it and how to measure the impact or progress all along.

This plan covers everything from the implementation, launch date, “on-boarding” user training, reporting, how to get help (online and offline) etc… all the way to the graduation ceremony at the end of each semester or year.

It also covers internal and external marketing communication to ensure everyone gets on board (as early as possible) and knows the benefits of what we are doing and why we are doing it etc. The joint project team works together to achieve the set goals and meets periodically on a monthly or a quarterly basis to review and adjust.

So as you can see the new role of customer success creates great vendor-customer partnerships and gets the software vendor to be more responsible and more accountable towards the end goal of the customer. If done right it is the ultimate Win Win.

Wishing you more Success !