Why is customer success important?

Why is customer success important? Ronni Gaun, a top 100 CS strategist makes a compelling case for customer success as an essential driver of business growth. Free of it's SaaS origins, customer success has become a human-to-human movement with wide ranging implications for companies.

Customer success or key account management

People often get customer success and key account management confused. And it's easy to understand why, because there are parallels and intersections between them.

For Ronni, it's not as vital to define precisely hwhere key account management ends and customer success starts because in the end it's all about human-to-human engagement.

Customer success bridges the gap between technology and how people use, embrace and engage with it.

Besides, as Ronni says,  every person in the organization is responsible for the customer's success.

We have moved beyond just how you might use a solution or a tool or an app. It's not just how you explain that to a customer. It's really about why.

Ronni Gaun // Customer Success Strategist

You can't be everywhere, all the time

If there's one immutable law of the Universe, it's this:

There are not enough hours in the day.

Customer Success Managers (CSMs) can't engage directly with every user. So they must be strategic with how they spend their time and the relationships and networks they develop. 

But too many CSMs are overwhelmed by day-to-day operational activities, and they become a catch-all for anything customer-related.

So they must have a 30,000-foot view, and check in on their strategy once in a while. Otherwise they risk losing sight of their most important objectives. Ronni's says there's a genuine opportunity right now for customer success to spread their wings beyond tactical to become a significant driver of revenue growth for companies.

Start by identifying which customers have the potential to deliver the most value and spend more time with them (effective segmentation will help you figure out who they are).

The problem with customer success

Customer success is an agile role and very responsive to customer requirements. Flexibility is one of its most significant advantages.

And also one of its disadvantages.

If Customer Success Managers don't have a plan, Ronni says it "becomes missionary work" and the quality of relationships suffer if you make promises you can't keep or don't deliver on time.

Watch out for scope creep (when work expands beyond what was originally agreed) and redefine roles and responsibilities as customer success matures in your organization. 

Discovery isn't just for prospects

Ronni says, "discovery isn't reserved for prospecting new customers. It should be ongoing throughout the relationship."

Keep learning about your customers and every single person involved in the relationship. 

Ronni calls it habitual prospecting which means to listen for those churn cues, but also for those opportunities to expand.

What matters most to customer success?

There's a long list of responsibilities for a Customer Success Manager, and for Ronni, the most important is relationship management and acceleration.

Ronni says "riding the wave" is not enough. CSMs must create velocity for momentum to continue.

Technical proficiency is essential too, and you should explain your value without show and tell. 

And by acceleration Ronni means to be intentional about the relationships you develop and help customers achieve their goals. You want to reach a level of trust where your customers listen.

And when you make recommendations, they act because what you offer is compelling and vital to them.

It's really important for everybody to understand that customer success is not going anywhere. Again, just getting louder and prouder. We're getting smarter. And I'd like to invite people to pay attention to it.

Ronni Gaun // Customer Success Strategist

Starting a career in customer success

If you're interested in a career in customer success, Ronni suggests to:

  • Look at Customer Success Manager job descriptions and do a skills inventory. What skills do you have, which are missing, and how can you bridge the gaps?
  • Immerse yourself in customer success communities, like Success Hacker, Grow Gain Retain and others.
  • Ask prospective employers what customer success means to them? How is it represented and supported? It varies.

Ronni is also a founding member of CS Ladies, a new multi-cultural, multi-lingual community supporting women in customer success.

But the focus is on more than customer success.

Inside the community, the conversations are also about women's issues and helping each other navigate the challenges of managing a career, a family... and a life.

You can learn more about CS Ladies here.

Do you have something to say?

If you would like to be my next guest on the Key Account Management in Action Vodcast, get in touch. Send an email to [email protected]

Final word

For Ronni, what inspires her most is how loud and proud customer success has become. 

An evolution, or a revolution? You be the judge. 

Ronni is excited to have found her passion, live it daily and be a part of the customer success conversation.

Resources

Why is customer success important? Ronni Gaun reminds us it's because it's a human-to-human movement that puts your customer at the heart of every conversation. It's not about what. Or even how. It's about why.

Warwick Brown


Warwick Brown has led business development and account management teams in Australia and Europe for more than 15 years and worked with some of the world's most prestigious firms, including Merck & Co, Deutsche Bank, McKinsey & Company and Vodafone. As the founder at Account Manager Tips, his mission is to help organisations leverage the power of key account management to accelerate client retention and revenue.


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customer success


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