customer success guide

Customer Success Plan: Key for Adoption and Expansion

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

Your customer success plan

I relish the time onsite with customers, especially when they are in my “own backyard” so to speak.

That “AHA” moment when a group sees the power of customer centric thinking and starts to design their agile playbook around the customer journey is something I will never tire of.

Two weeks ago, with one of my Toronto clients, was no exception.

We spent two intensive days creating a customer journey map and then outlining the supporting business model to operationalize it.

The challenge in this particular case (the most common I see with product vendors) was again pulling up out of the product weeds with their customers and driving adoption using the bigger picture as context.

We spent a considerable amount of time looking at their customer’s daily business lives and from that viewpoint, what they are trying to accomplish, to understand how to align the product vision with messaging that would resonate to drive adoption and then expansion.

It was an intellectually taxing two days but the mental exercising was well worth the effort!

The resulting customer journey and corresponding playbook is one of the best I have seen to date which is exciting as they are now starting to proceed with operationalizing the plan.

The first major initiative that we identified as a huge game changer for the Customer Success team, and which will start to reap benefits right away, is defining a Customer Success Plan (CSP).

In addition to facilitating a more effective adoption rate (they want to address retention), a CSP that aligns with the overall product suite will help grow the business by essentially mapping out the expansion strategy.

Why are Customer Success Plans critical for efficient adoption and effective for ongoing expansion?

A solid CSP encapsulates the vendor’s vision for the product and its associated value proposition, in a simple yet powerful visual that consists of the tactics the customer should execute in the product, in order to achieve the business outcomes that they desire.

By incorporating the notion of progress towards business objectives with the use of effective visuals, CSPs provide Customer Success Managers (CSMs) with a means to project manage the customer, keeping them focused and accountable to reaching their goals.

When the CSP visual and corresponding tactics incorporate the overall vision for the product, making it easy to use more of it, the CSP also serves as an effective tool for expansion.

That is, articulate your company’s full product vision in a manner that can be accomplished by following easy to understand and execute tactics, and you will have more customers doing them.

Bottom Line

Customer Success Plans are critical for Customer Success.

They are a means by which CSM’s keep the customer on track to successful adoption by keeping them focused on, and accountable to, achieving their overarching, intended business outcomes.

In addition to offering a smoother adoption experience, the CSP also offers the CSM an effective way to demonstrate business value realized, to the customer.

The best CSPs incorporate the whole product vision in a simple to understand, visual format that motivates customers to execute the necessary tactics to achieve initial, intended value and then recognize that they want to do more for ongoing value realization.

Used in conjunction across the customer’s entire journey and maturity levels, CSPs then also form a critical element to an effective expansion strategy.

Now that’s a success plan!

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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