Customer Success Strategy: Part 1

Over the next three weeks, I thought it would be useful to share my thoughts and experiences on building a customer success strategy.  It’s so important to lift our heads and look forward before we get dragged back down into the detail of our daily jobs.  As 2015 draws to a close, take some time to consider what you’ve achieved, and where you missed the mark so that 2016 becomes a year of true customer success.

A strategy will invariably start with a period of reflection to define some bold and lofty outcomes that you want to achieve: full service automation, surge in NPS, increase CLV (customer lifetime value) or build the ultimate advocate community.  At the risk of over-simplifying matter, I’d suggest that a customer strategy can generally be split into three primary activities:

  • Acquire: find new customers
  • Retain: keep your existing customers
  • Monetise: expand revenue from existing customers

Following this approach, let’s focus this week’s post on Acquire, next couple of weeks on Retain and Monetise.

For the hardcore customer service & success folks amongst you, if you’re thinking that Acquire is the job of sales, then that is a rather narrow view.  Customer success wisdom has taught us how important the deep bond between sales and success really is – building success strategic outcomes around Acquire is rather important.

At Workshare, the success team is a key component in the enterprise pre-sales cycle. As soon as the sales team have qualified the customer’s need (use case), a success team member is assigned with sales to build the customised product demonstration, the ROI (return on investment) model and support sales in creating a proposal.  Creating a structured approach with detailed (customisable) templates, SLAs on delivery for each stage and an escalation path for when things go wrong is incredibly time consuming, but the expedited sales process, clarity of responsibility and early engagement of the prospective customer is absolutely worth that effort.

Whilst sales might “own” the numbers on new acquisition, building a success pre-sales model will not only improve your relationship with sales, but it will also result in a better handover for the success team to commence on-boarding.  As with any process, once it’s flowing well, the secondary task is to seek out steps which can be automated for prospective customers in lower value tiers.  Being realistic about how quickly you can get the process working, you may want to place the secondary tasks in the second half of the year.  As I often say,it’s better to take time to get the process flowing flawlessly before you rush to simplify and automate.

So selecting on the headlines for this part of your strategy, the outcome might be something along the lines of “100% of all success pre-sales activity will be delivered on time to the highest standard.  The measures would focus on quality and efficiency in the success pre-sales involvement , rather than successful closure of opportunities.  For example, define the SLA on document production / meting set up, and track completeness in your CRM.  All customer product demonstrations will be scheduled with a customer within 48 hours of a request being received, or customised proposals will be sent to customers within 72 hours of a customer product demonstration happening.

This may not be the first stand of your strategy that you build, but business growth always beings with new business, so why not work with your sales colleagues to see what impact you can have on the new business figures for 2016?

In next week’s post, we’ll focus on something more familiar – Retain. For 2016-7, I’m splitting it out into three detailed strands – Retention, Adoption & Service. Happy strategy-writing!




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