What Is Customer Success?

An enterprise cannot survive without satisfied customers to support it.

This has always been true, but never has it been more true than in the era of customer-centricity that we now live in. As competitors become more customer-savvy and customers continue to raise the bar of their expectations, keeping customers happy is no longer the icing on the cake—it is now a main and necessary ingredient for business success, and it comes about primarily through the creation of customer value.

Investing in, and effectively managing, customer success is vital to ensuring the long-term stability and growth of your enterprise. The question is, what is customer success?

What Is Customer Success? CS Defined

“Customer success” refers to the way your business helps customers derive the most value possible from your products or services. It means prioritizing your customers’ satisfaction and ensuring they are always progressing toward their goals. Customer success centers around the idea that a win for a customer is a win for your enterprise, too.

Customer success is often mistakenly conflated with other business methodologies, so it is important to know the difference and what sets customer success apart.

Customer Service Vs. Customer Success Customer service is reactive and focuses on addressing specific customer problems swiftly and effectively.

Customer success takes a proactive approach that involves utilizing customer data to address potential problems and needs before they arise.

Customer Experience Vs. Customer Success Customer experience focuses on specific interactions and revolves around how easy and enjoyable it is for customers to use your product.

Customer success focuses on the customer journey as a whole and puts CX into the context of the customer’s overall needs and business goals.

Account Management Vs. Customer Success Account management tends to involve reacting to upcoming contract end dates, customer feedback, and account health, and focusing on encouraging renewal and expansion.

Customer success also involves working toward renewal and expansion, but focuses on identifying overarching trends and patterns in data to predict future needs and optimize customer outcomes.

Customer success is, in many ways, the art of looking at the big picture in order to plan ahead. To manage it successfully, however, requires certain resources—namely, a strategy for success, a team of employees, and a CS solution to keep it all organized and running smoothly. It can seem like a big investment for a pretty vague reward—until you look a little more closely at the full value investing in CS can provide.

Why Invest in Customer Success?

Investing in customer success means investing not just in your customer’s success, but in that of your enterprise. Investing in customer success can:

All of the above, of course, will ultimately also contribute to overall customer-centric growth for your enterprise.

Case Study: Monster

Monster, creators of an online platform for connecting job seekers with employers looking for new hires, began seriously investing in customer success just over three years ago. They have since reported a YOY increase of 11 percent in customer retention and $3.9M in directly and indirectly influenced revenue thanks to the CS strategies and solutions they have implemented in that time. To put it in their own words, “Our customers are more successful, and so is our sales team as a result.”

Scaling Customer Success

Your organization needs to be able to grow and scale its processes. As your business grows, your team also needs to be able to iterate quickly by analyzing your process and making any necessary changes to improve it and ultimately support your customers at scale. By scaling customer success, you can free up time for your CSMs to work on high-impact projects that will grow your business.

  • Invest in your digital engagement strategy. Create or iterate on your digital engagement strategy to ensure you can communicate at scale with both low-touch and high-touch customers
  • Use event- and usage-based SuccessPlays. These engagements are triggered by customer behavior, such as by a drop in product use or slow adoption after onboarding, or by events like opening a support ticket or a response to an NPS score. 

Case Study: Zoom

Zoom, providers of a major online teleconferencing platform, wanted to find a way to effectively scale their business model without losing sight of their values and customer-centric culture. Investing in the right CS solution helped this fast-growing company scale quickly while providing a high-quality experience throughout the customer journey for both large enterprises and small businesses alike. It allowed Zoom to utilize a digital engagement approach to their customers, most notably their high-volume, low-touch customers, saving time they could use to provide white-glove treatment to the biggest and most complex accounts. They now keep hundreds of thousands of customers engaged with relevant communications and easy-to-use self-service options and have an NPS of more than 70.

Customer Success Is a Team Sport 

Investing in customer success alone can accomplish a lot, but it works best when your CSMs can effectively collaborate with other teams as well.

Customer success and sales teams, for example, set each other up for success by sharing customer data in both directions. Data and information your sales team gleans from an initial sale can help your CSM provide a smoother transition for your customers while making them feel valued and understood. Insights from your CS team, meanwhile, can help your sales team better understand your customer base so they can pitch and close expansion sales more effectively. 

A CS solution that gives every member of your company access to customer data is an invaluable way to help your employees collaborate to positively impact the customer. 

The same is true of CS teams and marketingmarketing education materials can help CS nurture programs, while data from CS can help marketers with advocacy and case studies. Your product team should be able to see that same data, as it may affect the decisions they make and the projects they prioritize. A CS solution that gives every member of your company—whether they work in customer success, sales, or product development—access to customer data is an invaluable way to help your employees collaborate to positively impact the customer. 

Customer success also involves collaboration with your customers. No two customers are exactly alike, after all—and no two CS strategies will work exactly the same way, either. For customers that you need to work closely with, you should have a solution that allows you to help keep track of what you are working on with customers and who owns which next steps. Keeping your customers in the know going forward will allow them to see clearly when your business’ product drives results, keeping the full value of your product top-of-mind at all times.

Case Study: SevenRooms

The hospitality platform SevenRooms needed to pivot to help restaurants affected by COVID-19. They implemented a direct delivery system for restaurants looking to own the guest relationship and data, avoid costs associated with third-party delivery services, and ultimately increase profitability for delivery and pick-up orders. Using Totango’s Zoe product made it possible for SevenRooms team members to access the information they needed on any account at any time. This allowed SevenRooms to work smarter and more proactively with a scaled-down team. Company-wide access to customer data made it easy for everyone at SevenRooms to see how their actions were benefiting the customer and to work together to increase their positive impact.

So, what is customer success and what does it mean for your enterprise in the long run? While every good business has its customers’ best interests at heart, implementing customer success ultimately means turning those good intentions into actionable, measurable goals for your company and your customers, and then actively pursuing those goals. It is a strategic long-term investment that benefits your customers and your company alike.

In these challenging times, you can’t afford to buy before you try. Get started for free today. Totango can help you and your customers reap the full benefits of customer success by optimizing versatility, scalability, and mutual opportunities for growth.

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