This year, the customer success (CS) industry faces a critical choice — either assume the role of strategic growth driver by adopting revenue goals for the business, providing greater accountability to customers, and forming tighter cross-functional alignment with partners—or stick to the status quo, maintaining business as usual and leaving untapped potential on the table.
We polled our Customer Advisory Board (CAB) at the end of last year to gauge which way they saw the pendulum shifting for CS in 2024. Most expect to see CS emerging as a growth engine. In fact, 63% of CAB members said their top 2024 prediction was that businesses would put more strategic and bottom-line emphasis on expansion versus acquisition to drive revenue growth.
Additionally, our CAB members are buzzing about AI. Half of them predict that the excitement and potential for AI usage within CS teams and application in CS software will continue to build.
AI also emerged as a topic when we asked three of our executive leaders – Chief Marketing Officer Karen Budell, SVP of Customer Success Chris Dishman, and Chief Revenue Officer Dennis Reardon – to share their industry predictions for 2024. From the integration of cutting-edge technologies to the evolution of cross-functional roles and partnerships, here are their hot takes on what’s new for CS in this new year.
Customer success will be the C-suite partner for growth
The current enterprise B2B environment is marked by fierce competition, complex stakeholders, and an urgency to demonstrate end-to-end value to both customers and the business. At the intersection of product, customer, and business insights, CS is uniquely positioned to steer businesses through these changing environments.
2024 will be a pivotal year for business leaders to lean into CS as a core C-suite partner for defining strategy and the path to growth. Retention is the new acquisition. This is the moment for CS to rise to the occasion by focusing on securing retention and driving expansion, continuously working with customer results in mind, using adoption and feedback to drive advocacy, and embracing integration across the enterprise. – Karen Budell, Chief Marketing Officer, Totango
Generative AI will be an evolving partner for CS
Businesses will depend on CS teams to drive revenue growth from the customer base. As the regulation and responsible application of generative AI in workplaces grows, CS teams will recognize AI as a serious partner for improving customer satisfaction, reducing churn, and driving revenue growth. Individuals and teams that continue experimenting with and advancing their use of generative AI will add more value through boosted productivity and improved personalized interactions with customers—as they can act on hidden patterns in data that they could not previously see on their own.
In 2024, CS teams leveraging AI will stand out from the rest by quickly identifying customer problems and trends in data, providing account summaries to executives, and streamlining workflows. These use cases free up time spent on tasks like pre-calls or sifting through customer data, empowering customer success managers (CSMs) to focus on more strategic initiatives and consultative customer guidance. Human expertise, along with AI technology, transforms CS into a significant growth engine for their companies. – Chris Dishman, SVP of Customer Success, Totango
Expansion will become a top growth driver for recurring revenue companies
For a while, expansion has been overlooked as a driver of SaaS growth. Even though it costs five times more to win over a new customer than to retain a current one, nearly half of companies still prioritize customer acquisition over retention and expansion. However, many industry leaders agree that expansion will become a top growth driver for SaaS companies in 2024, and it will be elevated to the same level of importance as new business – maybe even more so.
Companies that are doing the best job reducing churn are the ones growing the most amidst a shaky bookings environment, and their CCOs are being tasked with developing a plan to grow revenue through retention and expansion of their install base. – Dennis Reardon, Chief Revenue Officer, Totango
The CS remit will evolve from catch-all to critical strategic driver
A critical component of the next generation of customer success will be the evolution of the CS remit from task completer to strategy enabler. For many companies, the CSM role has become a catch-all for various tasks – from renewals and billing to technical support. By nature, CSMs feel inclined to assume any responsibility involving the customer. However, as enterprises continue to embrace the importance of customer results in relation to growth, the customer success objective will also shift to a more outcome-oriented function.
In 2024, as the focus on customer outcomes becomes ever more the cornerstone of business results, CSMs will have to adopt a consultative approach – guiding technology and integration points to further provide visibility into customers’ needs, expectations, and goals. CSMs will devote more time to coaching and helping customers measure their product or service’s value in pursuit of their desired outcomes, and less time on tactical tasks. – Chris Dishman, SVP of Customer Success, Totango
Short-term performance goals will be balanced with lifetime value creation
In recent years, marketing has focused heavily on short-term performance, such as generating leads and driving sales. But now, market conditions demand a pendulum shift towards lifetime value creation and continued investment in brand building. As a result, businesses will rebalance these priorities and investments to weather downturns and mitigate challenging economic environments.
In 2024, marketing will partner more closely with CS teams to navigate this shift – with customer marketing serving as the bridge in many organizations. As partners, marketing and CS will deliver value through thought leadership, scaled initiatives, one-to-many content programs, community, and personalized support made possible by investments in AI. By helping customers get the most out of their products or services—and model what the most successful customers are doing, marketing and CS teams chart a path for long-term business growth. – Karen Budell, Chief Marketing Officer, Totango
Drive retention and expansion in 2024 with Totango
It would be shortsighted to cast the year ahead for customer success as simple or straightforward. But one thing is clear, we can no longer do CS as we used to, so now is the time to embrace new opportunities, take on new challenges and most importantly, to drive results for customers – and in turn, our businesses.
Totango is excited about the future of customer success and the role we can play in business growth for 2024. Learn how Totango can be your partner, helping your organization stay agile, customer-centric, and well-positioned for success in a new generation of growth.