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Executive Service Roundtable:

Driving Growth through Customer Success Management

Why your service business and customers need customer success management? 

Join our next Executive Service Roundtable about "How to Launch New Services Successfully"

A few notes from the discussion sessions
  • What is the customer value of Customer Success Management?
    • It depends on the kind of solutions (equipment, systems, software, services) you provide and how complex it is for your customers to generate the results or outcome.
    • The more complex this is, the more opportunities your company has to support your customers to secure and increase the value they get from your solutions.
    • This support could be an (on-demand or recurring) service offering if the potential value for customers is high and achieving this value requires a serious effort from your customer.
      Otherwise, it may make more sense to see this as a function of Customer Success Management.
    • As always, customer segmentation is essential. Different segments have different challenges, expectations and needs.
  • Value for our own company is not always evident.
    • Companies that focus on customer value are generally more successful than those that focus less on customer value.
      They have:
      • Higher growth rates
      • Higher market shares
      • Higher margins
      • Higher customer loyalty
      • Stronger brands
    • The quicker customers get and see the value they are getting from your solutions, the earlier they are ready to expand business with your company.
    • Customer Success managers generate customer insights, which can be leveraged by marketing, product development and service development.
    • Customer Success managers also generate insights for sales opportunities, whether it is re-purchase, re-selling, upselling, or cross-selling
  • How does Customer Success Management relate to service?
    Is it a separate department?
    • In most companies, service is predominantly focused on the condition and uptime of products or systems provided to their customers. The processes and competencies are rather technical.
    • The Customer Success Management function focuses more on how customers use the equipment or systems, the workflow or processes and the infrastructure. This expands the domain of the trusted advisor.
    • The persons taking care of Customer Success will regularly reveal information that triggers the need to involve service, sales, account management, and finance. They should be well positioned for this cross-departmental collaboration.
    • This could indeed be a function that falls under the Service Unit. But it is more than service usually does.
  • Should Customer Success Management pay for itself?
    • That depends on many factors:
      • The more it becomes a proper service offering, the more logical it would be to charge for the support.
      • The better you can articulate 1) the value for customers, 2) the disadvantages of doing without the support and the benefits, the easier it will be to charge for the Customer Success support.
      • On the other hand, the less significant the impact for customers of the Customer Success function and the more competitors offer it, the harder it becomes to charge for the support.
    • Customers of SaaS vendors usually do pay an onboarding fee. Often, these vendors present a compelling proposition and a name of the offering, including the benefits. For example: “implementation program” or “accelerator”.
    • In many sectors, the cost of selling and securing customer loyalty has increased significantly by offering all kinds of services and support free of charge. This became a challenge as the margins were going down.
      Note: We see a shift from “free to fee” in these sectors.
  • Data from connected equipment and systems can tell a lot about the usage by the customers: what functions, how much, in what order, the timing between actions, consumption of energy and raw materials. This information can be very useful to measure results, value, and success to manage this and demonstrate it to customers.
  • How can you scale for the productivity of a Customer Success function?
    • There are many ways to help your customers do the right things right to get their success and see this success. It will make sense to offer different levels of support via various channels to the different customer segments:
      • Low-touch approach via DIY-type online information with instructions, courses, checklists, and a dashboard.
      • Medium-touch approach, adding remote support from experts and trusted advisors to complement the DIY platform.
      • High-touch approach, where a team of experts regularly visits and works with customers on-site.
    • Develop frameworks, collateral, and playbooks, so Customer Success managers do not need to reinvent the wheel too much.
  • Where should the Customer Success Function sit in the organisation?
    • The Customer Success Management function can sit in different places, like sales, account management, and service, as a separate department reporting to the Chief Revenue Officers (next to marketing and sales).
    • However, more important is how this team is enabled to perform.
    • The Customer Success managers need to be able to align and collaborate with sales, account management, projects and service to resolve obstacles for their customers to succeed. This requires enough empowerment and support from top management.
    • The best practice for Customer Success managers is not to give them sales-related targets.
  • Altogether, customer focus, of which Customer Success Management is part, does require specific mindsets, strategic commitment, capabilities, and target setting.

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