Professionals around the world are often told to “under promise and over deliver,” but it seems that so far in 2016 and in 2015 many customer success leaders chose to ignore that popular advice.
Based on Totango’s industry insights from our annual Customer Success Salary Survey and dozens of conversations with executives at recurring revenue businesses, we found that many leaders in customer success have lost, or will lose, their position at their company this year. Let’s explore why this is the case.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
One aspect of the problem is that customer success leaders oversold what customer success could achieve. In order to build internal support for this relatively new field, they failed to set realistic expectations. With several examples of customer success teams increasing recurring revenue by 240% or increasing application usage by 20% in three months, many leaders underestimated the complexities of their own customer success operations and disappointed their executive team with their inability to deliver impressive results like those examples.
These customer success leaders have fallen victim to a hype cycle, selling customer success high at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and being fired when things did not materialize at the “Trough of Disillusionment.” Once the damage is done, it is difficult to rebuild executive trust and further buy-in for customer success.
Building Predictable ROI
The big learning for businesses, and the customer success leaders that were fired, is that customer success truly needs to be treated as a business. Numbers, accountability, and performance matter. Customer success results need to be predictable. Customer success teams must care equally about the model and programs they use as they do about the goals they set.
The smartest leaders will start by building an operating model that brings consistency and predictability to their practice. They will research how to choose a customer success platform that can simplify the complexities of their customer operations and help save time via automation and reporting. They will use best practice guides that provide tactical support on building ROI-positive programs for onboarding, nurture, renewal, and escalations. And they will succeed by setting and achieving goals using real customer data. Are you doing these things? Make sure your leadership position does not end up on the chopping block.
If you would like to know how hundreds of leading companies are building effective and predictable customer success, request a Totango demo today!