Customer Success 2.0: Where the Industry Needs to Head

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on the DesiredPath blog here.

As healthy companies continue to grow it becomes harder to do so at the same rate through new logo acquisition.

At a certain company size in the SaaS model, revenue growth increasingly needs to come from the existing customer base.

This is well known to anyone in the customer success industry and the impetus for the birth of customer success in the first place.

Revenue expansion from the customer base is key for ongoing company growth. Yet customer expansion is still very much in its infancy.

Companies spend an inordinate amount of effort on labor-intensive adoption and reactive, renewal processes with little or no regard to creating a disciplined expansion strategy.

I call this approach Customer Success 1.0 and the practice needs to change if companies ever want to achieve expansion nirvana.

Customer Success 2.0

In Customer Success 2.0, companies consider the holistic potential that their products have on their customers’ business and practice customer success accordingly to cultivate the maturing use of the product.

That is, they set their sights on establishing ongoing benefit for customers through strategic partnering and achievement of business objectives that result in expanded product use.

The ultimate aim is to propel the customers’ businesses forward with the use of the product versus simply driving the use of the product.

Propelling Customer’s Business Forward – The True North

What does propelling the customers’ business forward look like operationally then?

At a high level, it means three things:

      • Adoption needs to be as automatic as possible: ongoing product improvements and increased automation or tech-touch approaches are required to make adoption as intuitive as possible requiring little to no outside assistance.
      • Retention needs to be focused on business outcomes: companies must understand their customers (why they buy, what they are trying to accomplish, how they incorporate technology into their environments) and what the successful customer journey is to allow for proactive and prescriptive customer management.
      • Expansion needs to focus on maturing customer product usage: when the first two elements are in place, Customer Success can focus its efforts on evolving the customer’s use of the product to further grow their business.

Customer Success 2.0 means that Customer Success Managers (CSMs) are ultimately focused on how the technology can support the maturity of their customer’s business so that expansion is a natural occurrence.

CSMs are partnering strategically with customers to add value to their business.

When Customer Success 2.0 focuses on expansion, we do not stop our sights on product adoption and renewals. Rather we consider the entire customer journey and plan to continue strategically partnering with customers to evolve their business use to facilitate growth. Expansion nirvana!

Kia Puhm
Kia Puhm
Founder & CEO

A frontierswoman in the Software-as-a-Service Customer Success industry, Kia Puhm has extensive experience building world-class practices that accelerate business growth. Prior to founding DesiredPath, Kia held chief positions at Oracle, Eloqua, Day Software (Adobe), Intelex Technologies, and Blueprint Software Systems.
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