Most businesses talk about being “customer focused,” but that is vague and ultimately insufficient to deliver true customer happiness. The only way to ensure that you are optimizing the customer experience and maximizing customer satisfaction is by focusing on Customer Success with a dedicated team.

In B2B sales especially, Customer Success management is an emerging discipline that is changing the way we interact with customers. Whereas customer support is reactive, offering assistance following a sale, Customer Success management is proactive, identifying and addressing the customer’s problem at the start. Customer Success is an extension of solution selling, working with the customer to help them define and achieve business goals.

The goal of a Customer Success strategy is to collaborate with the customer, educate, cross-sell/upsell, and minimize churn.

The Need for a Customer Success Team

More organizations are creating Customer Success teams to develop deeper, solution-oriented relationships with customers to address their business needs. Although they often start out as “churn fighters,” Customer Success teams become the customer liaison from the outset, assisting with customer sales, training, support, and professional services.

The best Customer Success teams start working with sales and marketing at the customer acquisition stage, identifying new business opportunities and high-value leads. They help align sales support with customer needs, assisting with customer close and upsell.

With the right customer support team, the customer experience is high touch and consistent, providing personalized services that bring you on as a perceived strategic partner.

The Role of Customer Success

The role of the Customer Success team goes beyond simple fulfillment. It demonstrates ongoing value to the customer. The team is responsible for promoting success through onboarding, experience management, renewal, and upselling, gathering valuable data along the way to prove greater proactive value and improve the customer support process.

  • Onboarding: Although the Customer Success team becomes involved early in the sales process, their first engagement is typically with onboarding. In addition to education and training, the onboarding experience needs to be personalized to address the customer’s unique challenges. It’s not unusual to assign a dedicated product manager to help manage customer relations and expectations. 
  • Experience management: An important role of the Customer Success team is managing the customer experience and promoting customer satisfaction. They are the front line for addressing issues and complaints, and they are proactive in identifying issues and ensuring problem resolution.

    Adding a dedicated Customer Success team should dramatically reduce customer churn because their goal is to cultivate a win-win attitude that promotes the mutual benefit of the business relationship. 
  • Renewals: By building on the tacit agreement that the business relationship benefits both parties, the relationship becomes collaborative as the Customer Success team shares new features, new functions, and new product information. The result is higher customer retention. 
  • Cross-sell and Upsell: As the customer relationship matures, the Customer Success team will be able to create new opportunities to deepen that relationship. The need for additional products and services will become clear.

    More importantly, using data gathered during sales and support, the Customer Success team will be able to demonstrate ROI and show real returns. Proving Customer Success will promote new conversations, new opportunities, and reinforce the value of ongoing collaboration.

Return on Customer Success

The value of a Customer Success program is measurable. Just calculate the length of time you retain that customer, multiplied by the number of products they purchase, plus their value as a market reference, plus the savings from focusing on delivering business outcomes rather than selling to new customers.

By focusing on outcomes rather than new sales, you increase customer retention, and a 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase revenue by 25-95 percent.

With the growth of the subscription economy, the focus is moving away from individual product sales to lead acquisition and conversion. With subscription sales and recurring revenue models, the goals are to increase the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer while reducing the customer acquisition cost (CAC).

By adding Customer Success, the sales funnel becomes a loop driven by marketing, sales, and Customer Success to promote customer renewals and convert customers to evangelists who can drive additional sales.

Analytics using real-time customer satisfaction metrics derived from customer usage and contextual data plays a key role in maintaining this loop.

For example, if the data reveals slow product adoption or low usage, this indicates that the customer is not getting value from the sale, which means that the Customer Success team needs to step in. Customer sentiment analysis also provides insight into the quality of the customer experience.

Using customer satisfaction ratings and other data to power predictive analytics sheds new light on the buyer’s journey and customer satisfaction to refine the Customer Success strategy and promote a frictionless customer process with long-term value.

Customer satisfaction is an organization-wide commitment. However, with a structured Customer Success program, including a dedicated Customer Success team, it’s easier to make customer satisfaction a proactive program with measurable returns. Smart companies know that their future depends on happy customers, so they are investing in Customer Success.

If you want to learn more about Customer Success management and how to cultivate your own Customer Success team, my company’s e-book, Embracing Customer Success, will help get you started.

Read More: The Best  Customer Success Communities