Customer Service is dead, long live Customer Success

I started by career working in customer service – Visa & Mastercard Traveller Cheques (remember those?) I was thrilled by the uncertainty and unpredictability of every call. Could it be a Mexican tourist who’d lost their travellers’ cheques in Japan, or maybe a law enforcement agency verifying stolen cheques in Las Vegas, or maybe those pesky fraudster tourists claiming to have lost their travellers cheques on their summer break in Ibiza?  I worked my 12 hour night shift, waiting to help everyone who needed my assistance.

Fast forward 25 years, and the landscape has dramatically changed. SaaS business dragged us all kicking and screaming into the 21st century, killing off the old days of helpdesks, speed of answer and agent availability with a whole new wave of metrics.  Why did this happen, and what should you do if you still hanging around the ’90s with an obsession about how long your “agents” spend on each call?

Customer Success is the new black.  Is it yet another customer engagement fad that will pass?  I suspect not. It’s not just about creating a new mindset, but about changing the attitude of your management team to focus on customer valued change and customer driven outcomes.  What? The customer at the heart of the business?  Nothing new? Wrong!

As you embrace the concept of customer success, you start to behave differently.  Retention, working all the way back to the beginning of your customer journey to understand how your customers feel, not just what they do and stepping into the unfamiliar realm of pre-sales are all classic symptoms of evolving a customer success function.  Your “agents” transform into customer and product fans, who rail against bad experiences, and are bonused on how well they retain a portfolio of customers.  They are bold, they run webinars, they steer customers through clunky parts of your customer journey and they challenge the product team on things that annoy their customers with the product.  It’s quite a revolution, taking rather a lot of guts, a big leap of faith and a good dose of evangelists.

Customers are on your side for this journey, and with a little effort, you’ll find customer evangelists who want to achieve the same as you.  The dynamic of the relationship between customer and supplier has shifted from subservient service delivery into partnership with a common goal – customer success.  By seizing control of your customer experience and drive your customers through it.  It’s gusty and challenging, but so much more fun to deliver.  And it removes the horrid old world of hard selling, replacing it with cross sell & up-sell delivered by the same person you’ve been dealing with to help you form a habit and fall in love with the product.

So what if you’re one of those unfortunate business that still obsess over archaic metrics and refer to your team as agents?  Well take the plunge, get out there and find a local business that’s already adopted customer success and build yourself a transition plan.  There’s plenty of information out there on how to shift the dial (feel free to check out the many articles I’ve written on this topic on my blog: You won’t regret it.  You might get push back from peers and bosses, but if you don’t jump on this bandwagon, your competition will (if they haven’t already!)  Feel free to fire off questions and comments – we’re here to help!

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